Archive for the ‘Dora Machado’ Category

The Not-So-Friendly Skies

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Laptop crammed in a plane

Has this ever happened to you?

I was flying from Colorado to Tampa when the guy sitting in front of me, 11 C to be exact, decided to settle for a nap. Crunch. With a violent shove, the back of his seat smashed down on me, my knees, and my brand new laptop, without so much as a second thought. I could’ve used the Jaws of Life to extricate my laptop from the jam, or perhaps the assistance of the flight attendant, who ignored my predicament with an indifferent shrug. For the rest of the flight, I stared at the man’s balding pate, practically laying in my lap. Score one of the gods of mischief. 11 C unhinged both my laptop and my muse.

I have a love-hate relationship with planes and airports. I love traveling, but I hate the process of getting there. The long security lines that range from the strange to the absurd rankle me. Do they really make us safe or is it all perception-based make believe? The uptight travelers and the grumpy flight attendants drive me crazy. Are we paying customers or human cargo? I hate to admit it, but every once in a while when I’m traveling, I have to suppress an impulse to shout at the top of my lungs something along the lines of “travelers of the world, unite!”

It wasn’t always like this. I have distant memories of the friendly skies and every once in a while I score a pleasant flight on a carrier that doesn’t charge extra for your suitcase–or your next breath—and still considers smiling an important requirement in their job descriptions. But still, I fly an awful lot and I long for the kinder times where we weren’t all looking at one another as potential terrorists across the aisle and my knees were not bruised after every flight.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the economics about selling more seats per airplane. I’ve also heard about the arguments that Americans are getting bigger vis-à-vis airplane seats. Okay, fine. Let’s stick to our diets, America. But sometimes, when I board a plane and look around me, I suspect that somewhere, someone is playing a joke on all of us. Only miniature elves could fit in some of those narrow, jam-packed seats, and even then, their tiny knees might end up as bruised as mine.

As a writer, I do an awful lot of work while in the air. Those hours are vital to my schedule. And while I’m willing to sacrifice my knees for the thrill of the journey, my laptop is sacred. It’s hard enough to work in the cramped quarters as it is, but when 11 C slams down his seat without warning and smacks down my laptop like a swatter on a fly, this usually chill traveler sees red.

Which is why I’ve come up with my own rules for flying. Unless the flight is very long, I don’t recline my seat. Period. It maintains an illusion of space and it really helps the person behind me if she or he is using a laptop. If I must recline my seat during those longer flights, I look back to make sure I’m not going to smash the other person’s laptop, device, or carryon dinner. If the person is awake, I inform them I’m about to recline the seat a couple of inches and do so slowly.

Did you get all of that, 11 C? It’s called common courtesy and, I promise, it won’t hurt you.

BTW–and since we’re talking about writers on planes–maybe we should address one other little tiny issue while we’re at it. If someone is using a laptop or a device near me, I typically avert my eyes from the content. Nothing is more unnerving to a working author than a nosy neighbor peering into one’s half-formed prose.

Yeah, I’m talking to you 12 D.


Happy travels!


Tampa Airport at night

My local airport, Tampa International at sunset.

On Inspiration, the Writing Process and My best Advice for New Writers

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Three Questions Answered for Sisters in Crime

Inspiration Point

Hello there!

My dear friend Eleanor Khuns, author of the fantastic historical mysteries Death of a Dyer, A Simple Death and Craddle to Grave tagged me to participate in the Sisters in Crime  blog hop by answering the questions below.



Which authors have inspired you?

I’m one of those people who think that the human mind is influenced by every contact and every read, no matter how casual or light. I learn from every word I read. Heck, even when I don’t enjoy a writer, I’m still learning from what him or her. As a young woman growing up in the Dominican Republic, I was exposed to many different influences. I thrived on young adult novels from Louisa May Alcott. I loved Enid Blyton and blazed through The Famous Five, The Seven Secrets and The Malory Towers series. I think I wanted to be a student at Malory Towers as much as my kids wanted to go to school at Hogwarts!

But, talk about being a hybrid of many worlds! At the same time I was reading Louisa May Alcott and Enid Blyton, I was also reading the Latin American classics. Books such as A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosas, and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende left lasting impressions. I also tapped into my parents’ wonderful library, enjoying the Russians (I favored Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy), the French (Victor Hugo), the Germans (Eric Maria Remarque), the Spanish (Jose Maria Gironella), and the Americans (Hemingway, always Hemingway).

Later, when I came to the States, I discovered fantasy and was dazzled by J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson, Frank Herbert, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin, way before he became popular, I should add. I also fell in love with commercial fiction. Diana Gabaldon, Bernard Cornwell and Anne Rice are some of my all-time favorites.

What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

The best part of the writing process for me is the writing itself. I love working on a first draft, laying down the ideas, characters and structure of a novel for the first time, discovering the full story in my mind. There’s something liberating about a blank screen, about the sentences turning into paragraphs and the paragraphs into chapters. I love the evolution of a story, the transformation that occurs as the story progresses, the unforeseen twists and turns that defy the outline and provoke the imagination.

The most challenging part of the writing process comes at the end for me, after the manuscript is done. I’m not one for self-promotion and yet the current publishing environment requires a great deal of it. I love talking to readers about writing and books, getting to know them, listening to their ideas and reactions to the stories and reading and writing in general. But tooting my own horn? It doesn’t come naturally to me.

If you were to mentor new writers, what would you tell them about the writing business? 

I enjoy mentoring new writers. I always tell them to educate themselves in the totality of the process upfront. It saves time if you have the basics covered, if the writer is proficient in grammar, punctuation, formatting and so forth. It also helps enormously if the writer has a good idea of how the industry works and how the market for her genre behaves.

I would also tell a new writer to submit their work to the highest possible standards of critical review prior to shopping for publishers. There’s a lot of stuff clogging the pipeline and a polished, edited manuscript can make all the difference in the world. Editors, critique groups, other writers and beta readers who know the genre can be invaluable to the new writer.

Above all, I would tell the new writer to write, to complete the manuscript from beginning to end, to edit it, to trudge through the entire creative process and learn from it. Your first manuscript may never see the light of day. Maybe your second and third won’t either, but no one can take away the treasure trove of learning that you gain each time you complete the creative process from beginning to end and the joy that comes from writing.

Thank you Eleanor for inviting me to participate in the Sisters in Crime blog hop. Hop on to the next blog and meet Barb Caffrey, the talented author of the comic, YA urban fantasy, An Elfie on the Loose.


Eleanor Kuhns books 2


Dora Machado's Books (640x237)



Coming Real Soon: The Curse Giver in Audiobook Version!

Monday, September 8th, 2014


The Curse Giver Audible


Dear Readers,

The production of The Curse Giver‘s Audiobook version is almost complete, narrated by the talented Melissa Reizian-Frank.After spending a decade as an award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, Melissa entered the world of full-time voiceover 14 years ago.

Since then, Melissa has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, countless e-learning training narrations and more than a dozen audiobooks, including Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone and Stonewiser; The Lament of the Stone. Melissa has been involved in theatre her entire life. She believes in giving life to characters through voice. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also minored in Theatre.

I asked Melissa a couple of quick questions about the project:

Hi Melissa! How did you become a voice actress? What are your favorite kind of projects? Why did you decide to audition for The Curse Giver‘s audible project?

Hi Dora! Thanks for having me! Well, I have been a full-time voice actor for about 15 years now. Before this, I was a television news reporter and anchor, but decided to switch careers to have more time for my then one—now three—sons. I do all sorts of TV and radio commercials, narrations, and e-learning trainings. But my favorite thing is to create audiobooks!

I didn’t really audition for Curse Giver as much as I begged you to let me narrate it, now did I, Dora? J I was still narrating your excellent Stonewiser trilogy when you started really promoting the paper version of Curse Giver. I knew I wanted to read another Dora Classic!

Aw. Thanks, Melissa. You’re making me blush! Tell us, do you enjoy narrating fantasy? And if you do, why? Is there a secret to making great fantasy audiobooks?

I LOVE fantasy! Sci-fi and paranormal too. You can have so much fun with other-worldly characters and sometimes you get to make up your own “language” for their accent. J

Hmm…a secret to making great fantasy audiobooks. Well, it starts with the BOOK part of “audiobook.” A well-written and well-crafted story ALWAYS translates better to the spoken word. An author who creates believable characters—no matter how fantastical their surroundings and situations are—and who writes them like real people no matter how many legs or arms they have is going to translate better to an audiobook. Period. Hey, I know someone like that! Eh-hem.


The Curse Giver Audible coming soon


About Melissa Reizian Frank



After spending a decade as an award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, Melissa Reizian Frank entered the world of full-time voiceover 14 years ago with the aim of having more time to spend with her family. Since then, Melissa has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, more than a dozen audiobooks, countless e-learning training narrations (Need to know anything from minute details about cerebral palsy? How to be a good bowling center employee? How to spot a money-laundering scheme? She’s your gal!)

She’s a talking detergent dispenser (in English AND Spanish) at many Laundromats across the country, and will even tell you which cash register to go to at many national department stores! Melissa has been involved in theatre her entire life, and has done some community theatre recently as well. Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also minored in Theatre.




Tampa Bay Comic Con

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Hello everybody!

We had a blast at the Tampa Bay Comic Con this last weekend. Along with my Twilight Times Books colleagues, Scott Eder and Maria DeVivo, we enjoyed an exuberant celebration of fantasy and science fiction in books, television, movies, and videogames. The Con was a triumph of the human imagination. It was fun, chaotic at times, but supremely entertaining. My favorite? The panels.

Maria, Scott and I sat on several panels together with authors Tracy Akers and K.L. Nappier, to discuss the best novel-to-movie adaptations, building believable worlds, and character development. It was the first time that writing panels were included at the Tampa Bay Comic Con, thanks to the efforts of Tracy Akers and Scott Eder, who organized the panels.

The result were great. Not only were the panels extremely well attended, but they were also full of clever readers who knew their fantasy, promising aspiring writers, geniuses disguised as kids, and a host of fascinating characters.

We had awesome discussions with amazing audiences. I really enjoyed hanging out with my fellow authors, meeting so many smart and interesting readers, and sharing my writing experiences with folks who love writing, reading and fantasy as much as I do.

Twilight Times Books colleagues Maria DiVivo, Scott Eder and me in the middle.

Twilight Times Books colleagues Maria DiVivo, Scott Eder and me in the middle.

Dear friends and family stopped by the TTB booth.

Dear friends and family stopped by the TTB booth.


Yours truly at one of the panels.

Yours truly at one of the panels.

Signing books.

Signing books.

At one of the panels. From left to right, authors Scott Eder, Tracy Akers, K.L. Nappier, Maria DiVivo and yours truly.

At one of the panels. From left to right, authors Scott Eder, Tracy Akers, K.L. Nappier, Maria DiVivo and yours truly.

Thanks to all of you who stopped by the booth to say hello, all the attendees of the awesome panels, and to the organizers, employees and volunteers of Tampa Bay Comic Con for putting together such a great event.