Monday, September 07, 2009

Guest Blogger Mayra Calvani

Today I’m honored to host Guest Blogger Mayra Calvani.

Multi-genre author, reviewer and animal advocate Mayra Calvani hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, playing the violin, and interviewing other authors for her blogs and newsletters. She’s a member of SCBWI and the Latino Books Examiner for, as well as a regular contributor to Suite101 and Blogcritics. Visit Mayra at:

For a special treat Mayra has posted one of her short stories.

Déjà vu
By Mayra Calvani

Amanda stood on the sidewalk overlooking the sea. The splash of the waves against the rocks below resonated in the air. She could taste the salty tang sharply on her tongue, feel the cool breeze tousling her hair. She hugged her arms to stop the goose bumps.

Tonight Old San Juan vibrated with a magical quality. Twinkling multi-colored lights and shimmering garlands adorned shop windows and balconies. Christmas trees glowed from inside the flats that lined the street.

Amanda admired the sea a little longer; it was late and she had to go home. She and her husband were giving a party. They always did on Christmas Eve. She was stalling and she knew it, though she didn’t know exactly why.

Abruptly someone bumped into her. She turned to see a little boy running down the street. She froze for a second before realizing what had happened—he had stolen her handbag.

“Hey!” she said, running after him. “Come back here!”

A sensation of unreality grabbed her. She saw the little boy running in slow motion, his dark curls floating behind him as if there were no gravity. An intense feeling of déjà vu shook her to the core. She had to catch up with him. She had to stop him!

“Stop!” she shouted, breathless.

Everything happened in a matter of seconds. The boy glanced behind his shoulder just as he tried to cross the street. A fast approaching car was coming in his direction. Amanda reached for the boy’s shirt and pulled him harshly to the sidewalk and away from the street. The boy struggled against her, but she held on, a wave of relief flooding through her.

“Stop that. The policeman will see us,” Amanda said, her eyes on the strolling officer across the street. Oddly, he looked bored, as if he had not noticed anything unusual.

The boy relaxed under her grip and for the first time she had a chance to look into his face. He had shoulder-length curly hair and large brown eyes surrounded by thick lashes. Under the streetlight his chestnut curls glowed. He couldn’t have been older than eight. In spite of his arrogant attitude, he reminded her of a cherub.

“What do you think you were doing? Trying to get yourself killed? That car almost ran into you!” she said.

“Are you going to have me arrested?” he said, lifting his chin.

Amanda glanced at the officer, who was now far away. She sighed. “Are you going to give me back my bag?”

Looking oddly calm, he gave her the bag.

“Thank you,” Amanda said drily.

“Can you let me go now?”

Amanda realized she was still holding on to him. Confusion and fear filled her being. She didn’t want to let go.

“I’m not going away,” the boy said enigmatically.

Their eyes locked momentarily.

“Oh… all right…” She let go. “What’s your name?”


“Why did you try to steal my bag?”

His small, thin shoulders lifted in a shrug. “Why do poor kids steal rich people’s bags?”

She decided to ignore his wisecrack. “You should go home. It’s late. Your parents must be worried.”

“Nah, they never worry.”

They began to walk side by side.

“Let me bring you home.”

“I don’t want to go home. There’s always too much fighting in there.”

“It’s Christmas Eve. I bet your mom is preparing a nice meal.”

“I don’t want to go home,” he said coldly, stopping her in her tracks.
Amanda looked at him. She was not ready to say goodbye. “Well, do you want to come to my house? We can have something to eat together.”

“Do you live in a mansion?”

“You could say that.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“I have a dog,” Amanda said.

His expression brightened. “What’s his name?”

“Noah. Well?”

Felipito seemed thoughtful as he stuffed his hands inside his pockets and resumed his walk. “I’d like to meet Noah.”


At Amanda’s home the party was at full swing. Guests in sophisticated attire were gathered around the pool with drinks and cigarettes in their hands. Some couples danced. Others ate by a long buffet table. Holiday music poured out of hidden speakers.

Amanda led Felipito to the back of the garden and towards the back door of the kitchen.

“Do you know all these people?” he asked.

“Yes and no.” She halted momentarily to look at the guests. “My husband is an important man. These are mostly his co-workers.” Her voice had turned sad, bitter. “ I’ve always been sort of a hermit.”

“What’s that?”

“I like being alone.”


“My husband is a very important man.”

“So you said.”

They looked to the kitchen as a large blond dog stormed out the door and dashed into their direction.

“Noah!” Amanda said, smiling for the first time that night. “Come here, boy! Let me introduce you to someone.”

She bent over to stroke him and scratch him behind the ears. Felipito laughed as he joined in the petting. Noah whimpered as if he couldn’t have enough of Amanda’s affection.

“Let’s go inside,” Amanda said.

She led him to a table at the far end of the kitchen, while the servants continued their duties on the other side of the room. After bringing an assortment of food and pastries to the table, Amanda sat across from Felipito. Noah lay at her feet, his tail still swaging from contentment.

“Go ahead, eat,” she said.

“Aren’t you going to eat?”

“I’ll just have a drink,” she said, lifting a glass of wine as if in toast.

Felipito studied the servants in the kitchen, then turned to Amanda. A dark cloud crossed his features; he appeared infinitely older than his years.

“Do you have any kids?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’ve always wanted kids, but I can’t have them.”


After Felipito finished eating, Amanda said, “I probably should bring you back now. It’s late. Your mom must be worried.”

Amanda leaned over to stroke Noah, who had started whimpering again as if sensing her parting.


Amanda and Felipito stood by the door of the small house which was his home.
Felipito looked somber. Amanda was about to knock when he stopped her and said, “Don’t. Let’s just go in.”

Inside the small living room there was no Christmas tree; no lights or garlands or poinsettias.

A woman sat alone in the dark, her back to them. She had something in her hands.
Felipito took Amanda’s hand and together they approached the woman until they stood over her shoulder.

Felipito sighed. “Don’t cry, Mami,” he whispered.

“What that in her hands?” Amanda asked.

Then she saw it. It was a photo of Felipito.

Amanda turned to him, the floor shifting under her, the room swirling around her. She opened her mouth, but no words came out.

“I died one year ago,” he said calmly.

Amanda took a step back. “No…”

She moved away from the crying woman and away from Felipito. His big eyes shimmered with emotion as he extended a hand towards Amanda.

“Come. I’ll show you,” he said.

“You can’t be dead. You’re here, with me, talking to me. You just played with my dog, ate at my kitchen. You can’t be…”



In the late hour the Old San Juan cemetery was cold and windy and Amanda could hear the waves crashing against the rocks below.

“Where are you taking me?” she said.

Now it was his turn to hold on to her. “You have to know, Amanda. You have to let go.”

She shook her head, tears flowing down her cheeks. “You’re going to show me your grave, is that it?”

His small hand pressed tighter around hers, his nails digging into her.
“There,” he said, pushing her in front of a tombstone.

She read the name engraved on the stone and covered her face with her hands, while all her life, all the memories rushed through her mind until that last very moment. “No! No! No!”

“Why is it that no one can see or hear us—no one except Noah? How do you think we moved from here to your house without a car?”


“You have to let go,” he said.

“No!” She fell to the ground, wallowing in the knowledge, guilt and pain.

“You’ll be here forever without freedom or peace until you forgive yourself. Look at me, Amanda.”

Her sobs weakened as she looked up at him.

“It was not your fault that I tried to steal your handbag. You had to run after me. It was not your fault that I got ran over by that car. You’ve punished yourself enough, drowning in alcohol and pills. Why did you take so many pills that night?”

“It was an accident…”

“I know.”

“I never meant to kill myself!”

“I know.” Then he said, “I forgive you, Amanda. This is why I’ve come here. Tonight.”

They were quiet for a long time. Amanda stood up and looked around her. Would she smell the sea again? Play with Noah? She felt scared and lost. “What now? Where do I go?”

Felipito took her by the hand. “Let me show you the way.”

The End

More of Mayra’s works ::

The Magic Violin
By Mayra Calvani
Illustrated by K.C. Snider
Guardian Angel Publishing
Tel: 314 276 8482
ISBN: 978-1-933090-49-8
November 2007
Paperback, 32 pages, $10.95
Picture Book, Ages 4-8

“This is a beautiful book with lyrical text. Vivid descriptions make Melina’s
emotions tangible. The accompanying illustrations are a perfect match.
They give a charming view of 19th Century Europe. A lovely addition to any
child’s bookshelf.” --Julie M. Prince, YABooksCentral

“Filled with old world charm, children will find this book has a distinctive foreign flavor. Illustrations are reminiscent of earlier days and the story itself conveys an old-fashioned feeling. The magic of a European Christmas Eve comes to life through text and pictures in this gentle tale for music lovers. Young violinists may discover their own dose of self-confidence in this unique picture book.”
–Nancy K. Wallace, VOYA reviewer
Order Here at

by Mayra Calvan

iIllustrated by Anna Pylypchuk
Guardian Angel Publishing
ISBN: 1-933090-54-5
April 2008Paperback, 32 pages, $10.95Picture Book, Ages 3-6

Join Marcelo as he learns to care for his brand new—and very peculiar—puppy and sets out to choose the perfect name for it.

Find out more about Crash here

Check out the Spanish edition, Chocalin:

In a bazaar in Istanbul one evening, ten-year-old Alana Piovanetti glances into the shadows to find a man watching her. He smiles, and over time she convinces herself that it was just her imagination that placed sharp fangs amongst those flashing teeth.
Twelve years later, Alana is surprised when she is chosen to manage a new restaurant opening in her home city of San Juan. She has neither training nor experience to justify her success. But La Cueva del Vampiro has the kind of ambience she adores, for Alana has always had a penchant for horror and the dark side of life. Yet she is also plagued with dreams of dark sensuality, dreams that take on shattering reality when she meets the stunningly handsome, charismatic Sadash.
For Sadash is the man she saw in the shadows so many years before...and Sadash isn't human….


"[Embraced by the Shadows] is a superbly written, deftly balanced story of love and death and twisted loyalties that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end. More importantly, it will make you think and perhaps take a closer look at the shadowed corners of your own psyche.” –The Blue Iris Journal

"Mysterious, intriguing and somewhat unsettling at times, this novel is a must for all vampire reading fans. A rich, twisting plot and a surprising ending awaits you."
--The Midwest Book Review

"[Embraced by the Shadows] is a wonderful tale of a woman torn between a love she can not resist and a life she does not understand. Alana is a character to fall in love with... Mayra Calvani did an exemplary job in weaving this story of passion, love and betrayal. Once the reviewer started the prologue she was hooked and could not put this book down. This is a must read for fans of paranormal!" –Love Romances

“A dark brooding novel, Calvani takes us on a journey into the darkest corners of our hopes and desires, especially the desire of all humans to somehow survive and how far would we go if we were given the chance to live forever...This is a must read for all fans of vampire romance novels.”
--Murder & Mayhem Book Club

"...For any of you female readers that have always had the fantasy of your masculine vampire following you all through your life and not revealing himself until he thinks you are ready, this book is for you. This was an excellent read."--ParaNormal Romance Reviews

Embraced by the Shadows
By Mayra Calvani
Twilight Times Books

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
By Mayra Calvani & Anne K. Edwards
Twilight Times Books
Twilight Times Books
Trade Paperback
188 pages, $16.95
Foreword by James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review
*2009 ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award!
*EPPIE Finalist
*Next Generation Indie Finalist
*USA Book News Award Finalist
Ebook ISBN: 1-933353-89-9, Available on Fictionwise
Trade Paperback coming in October 2009
Visit the author’s website at

Are you passionate about books? Do you have the desire to share your thoughts about a book with readers, yet are unsure about what makes a good review? Are you curious about the influence reviews have on readers, booksellers, and librarians?
If you’re an experienced reviewer, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will serve as an excellent reference tool and amalgam of resources. If you’re a beginner, this book will show you how to write a well-written, honest, objective and professional book review. It will also teach you:
· How to read critically
· How to differentiate the various types of reviews
· How to rate books
· How to prevent amateurish mistakes
· How to deal with the ethics and legalities of reviewing
· How to tell the difference between a review, a book report, and a critique
· How to start your own review site
· How to publish your reviews on dozens of sites and even make money while you’re at it, and much more

If you’re an author, publisher, publicist, bookseller, librarian, or reader, this book will also bring to light the importance and influence of book reviews within a wider spectrum.

Visit: and
by Mayra Calvani
Zumaya Publications
Release date: February 2009
Print ISBN: 978-1-934841-18-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-934841-19-8
Parody/Satire/Women's Fiction
Available on Amazon and as ebook from

Visit: for reviews, excerpt, etc.

Daniella, a naive and deeply sensitive architecture student who feels herself surrounded by carnivorous creatures from the Mesozoic Era.
Zorro, a deranged criminal running rampant on the streets of San Juan, terrorizing women who wear miniskirts.
Tony, Daniella's boyfriend, smug and selfish and demonically handsome, who seems oblivious to everything about him except to his own obsession with fame and LSD.
Ismael, Daniella's ex-husband, as cruel and innocent as a child, an art critic whose fantasies of revenge will force him to do something that will shock the entire island.
Irene Carlier, Ismael's new wife, better known as Lady Dracula, a ghastly rich woman who collects torturing devices and in whose penthouse apartment something utterly dreadful will be discovered.
Set in steamy San Juan, Puerto Rico, these and other crazed, eccentric characters swirl together in an intriguing, warped, darkly humorous world where not even Turkish cats are safe from marijuana smoke.

Mayra’s tour continues thru September 18.
Find out more about her at these wonderful blogs.

8 Roxanna SpanglishBaby
9 Silva Martinez
11 Icess Fernandez
14 Efrain Ortiz Jr.
16 Christina Rodriguez
17 Ricardo Lori
18 Misa Ramirez Chasing Heroes


Teresa Carbajal Ravet said...

Buenos dias Terri & Mayra,

Enjoyed your story. I look forward to following your tour.

Want to stop by at Sententia Vera to talk about literature in translation?


Mayra Calvani said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Terri!

Mayra Calvani said...

Hi Teresa!

Thanks for the comment and invite. I'd love it!

Terri said...

My pleasure Mayra. That's a lovely story, so sad.

Thank you for sharing it on my blog.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Off to a great start on your tour, Mayra. Enjoyed your story. Best of luck and continued success!

Silvia said...

I enjoy your story Mayra!

The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews