Welcome back to the Author Interview series at The Writing Life blog. I’ll be chatting with authors every Tuesday until the end of November, so please do check back in.
Today I’m pleased to chat with my first guest Jonisha Rios, author of Curse of the Blue Vagina.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Women’s Fiction /Humor-Empowerment, I guess.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Curse of the Blue Vagina is a collection that includes two short stories and a one-act play. The stories are about women. The first is a story about one woman’s journey to break a curse that keeps her from attracting the love that she desires.
How did you come up with the title?
I was sitting next to my husband and we were talking about the concept of “Blue Balls”, you know when a man is left feeling physically in pain when he is not sexually satisfied. I never gave him those, by the way. But there we were chit chatting about it, and then I told him that women go through the same thing. Only for us, it’s more of an emotional rather than a physical pain. For us, the Blue Vagina occurs when the love we want isn’t reciprocated.
What inspired you to write this book, Jonisha?
What inspired these pieces were three distinctly different things. For the first story I wanted to explore the dynamic of first time love. My aunt who had cancer inspired the second story. I was blown away by her incredible faith despite her unfortunate diagnosis. And the third inspiration was a night out with the girls whose vivid conversations had stayed with me long after our night of hanging out was over. I remembered each story had a life of its own and a clear voice. So if I had to summarize in one word, I would say unshakeable, amazing women inspired my book. (Okay, that’s three words.)
What is your favorite part of writing?
The freedom to use my imagination. I love to get away and create scenarios that make me laugh out loud, and also make me feel empowered and even romanced.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Just making the time to sit with no interruption is a challenge. Between shuffling my son around to various classes and working part-time as a nanny, by the time I am done running around with three kids, I am too tired to write. But, I do it anyway. When you are a mom and a writer, oftentimes you have to write when the kids go to sleep. Other times you have to write when there are countless interruptions. Whether you are tired or interrupted a million times, your brain can feel like mush.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Honestly I’ve read so many books I don’t really have any specific favorites. I genuinely get into whatever I am reading, so that whoever wrote the book I am reading in the moment becomes my new favorite author. Right now my favorite book is “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo. I have her second book “Spark Joy”, and it’s a great companion piece to go along with the first. I just love those books. You see, I used to teach classes in Feng Shui and this book has been so much fun for me to read. Your outside world is often a reflection of what’s going on in your inner world. I also love books on Homeopathy and joke books. Pretty much anything on Kindle Unlimited!
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), Chelsea Handler, Woody Allen (his early years), and Alisa Valdes, (Dirty Girls Social Club).
Do you have a favorite place to write?
The bathroom or the closet. These are not fancy big spaces but they are all I have to escape to when I need to write. Because I live in a loft, it’s just one open space with no one place for me. So I decorated the closet as my own little hideaway nook. I put some Christmas lights up and added a meditation matt. If it is too noisy during the day, then the bathroom is my number 2 spot, (no pun intended lol).
Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I not only teach Feng Shui workshops, I do live blood analysis and provide guided healing counseling sessions – check out Eyezikchat.com. It’s a gift I have. I believe having the ability to meditate allows you to tap into a stream of consciousness that opens up imaginative pathways to creating whatever you desire.
What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?
Learn how to format or hire someone who can handle it easily. Make sure you tell them to give you a version you can correct. Even after having had my work professionally proofed several times, I found that once the book was formatted, errors jumped out at me that I didn’t notice before. I was lucky enough that my formatter allowed me to fix these things, but it was a very expensive lesson. So I guess even before that step, make sure you have your manuscript proofed no less than 5 times. And in the end, if it’s still not perfect, let it go. As long as people connect with the story, that is all that matters.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I completed it. I took it from A-Z and once I did that, the floodgates opened for me. That was when a team of supporters magically arrived to support me. I love my agent Leticia Gomez, manager Marilyn Atlas, and most importantly, my editor Elizabeth Lopez. These people were instrumental in the completion of this book. I’d also like to thank my husband for giving me my blue vagina! lol
And I thank my son Iysaac. I raced to finish up this book before he woke up at night. That was the fire under my ass I needed to get it completed. Mama got it done.
Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
If you don’t have a team of people out there to help you get the book to where it needs to be, I would suggest you go about completing the book from start to finish on your own. That needs to be the goal and the team will arrive. If not for your first book, then for the second one, for sure. My friend did that recently and got himself on Amazon and other sites. He had a goal and made it happen. I think that is the key. If you want to get published, go about having a plan to publish yourself as you are sending out query letters to different publishing companies and agencies.
Where can we find Curse of the Blue Vagina?
The above website works.
What’s next for you, Jonisha?
My next book and some web shows and pod casts are in the works. Follow me on Facebook to see what is coming up next.
ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA
Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.
Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman‘, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.