Author Interview: Jonisha Rios

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.

Jonisha Rios is an accomplished screenwriter, author, director, and actress who currently resides in California. She teaches Solo-show workshops to adults and kids.
Jonisha Rios
Welcome, Jonisha!

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.

Website?

www.Curseofthebluevagina.com

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.

 

Fun interview, Jonisha. Best wishes with Curse of the Blue Vagina!

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

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.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

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When Our Words Seem Trite

I hope you enjoy my new piece, written for Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society.

ORGANIC COFFEE, HAPHAZARDLY

by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Despite many attempts last month, I found it difficult to write, especially about writing. Every word seemed trite and nothing I said seemed relevant in light of the terror and chaos caused by recent crimes of hatred and acts of terrorism at home and abroad.

In desperation, I decided it was time to take a break. Not a break from writing my second book—that keeps me sane—no, I decided to take a break from social media and blogging, until such time that our world becomes a more peaceful place to live. My thoughts were muddied by too much chaos, heartache, and uncertainty.

Then I thought, wait a minute…that peace might take a long, long time.

Last night I read a heart-tugging article in The Nation by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, published last year. One quote in particular spoke to what I was facing and seemed…

View original post 377 more words

Guest Post: Norma Burgos Vázquez on Puerto Rico, PROMESA, and Oscar López Rivera

“Give Us Our Mandela Moment: Free Oscar Now! So the World Can Witness ‘Invictus’ of Puerto Ricans by the Power of One”

“If I am standing here today, it is not because I lack the courage to fight, but rather because I have the courage to fight. I am certain, and will reaffirm, that Puerto Rico will be a free and sovereign nation.” 

– Oscar López Rivera, at his trial for seditious conspiracy, 1981

Oscar Part 2: “The Perfect Storm”

The Winston Churchill words “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” often touted by President Obama on the dais, to steer Americans on the path to righteousness, ring very hollow today.  The PROMESA passage on June 29, 2016 will go down in history as a day of infamy for the United States of America. And the buzz word from every corner of the island is“indignation.”

  COUNTDOWN TO COLONIAL TAKEOVER:

BACK TO THE FUTURE

May 27, 2016
Juan González, co-host of Democracy Now, Daily News column, “A Colonial Takeover Proposed Puerto Rican Debt Bill to Give ‘Dictatorial’ Powers to Unelected Board.” “The bill has provoked a furor among many island residents because it imposes a seven-member oversight board with dictatorial powers that hearken back to colonial days, and because it is geared to protecting bondholders and paving the way for massive cuts in the island’s public services.” read more

May 31, 2016
Matt Peppe, Global Research, “Obama Continues to Ignore Pleas to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera.” The mega star Lin Manuel Miranda uses his coveted invitation to the White House to put in a good word for the release of political prisoner Oscar, to which President Obama made the reply, “he had the case on his desk.” read more

The Puerto Rican tragedy couldn’t get any worse, you might think. But it does for me. The catharsis that followed this email was the 16-year build-up of outrage, frustration and anguish. I froze before my closet mirror sliding doors, my eyes on the floor, afraid to see the woman in the mirror.  Tears were staining my face like the forlorn stepchild, unloved and mistreated.  I prayed, God, in our darkest hour don’t let President Obama turn his back on the people of Puerto Rico he made a promise to back in June 2011.  When the eyes of the world were on us for a whole 3 ½ hours!  And Obama won the hearts and minds of islanders enjoying the Puerto Rican hospitality, “El Sandwiche Media Noche” surrounded by jubilant locals for lunch.

Obama’s ‘Visita Flash’

To the outside world, beyond our island’s shores, Obama’s historic presidential visit all boiled down to just another pit-stop along the campaign trail, and his courtship of the State of Florida Puerto Rican voters.  But from my view (a loyal and I mean loyal Obama supporter) Air Force One was packed with hope.  The Fortuño years of unbridled austerity had ruined confidence in local government. Obama represented the “Great Black Hope for Brown Folks” coming to the rescue of his adoring fans.

Obama’s top advisers to the 2010 White House Task Force on the Status of Puerto Rico were also aboard, to follow-up on the President’s mandate to island political leaders: To set a date for the 2012 referendum on the resolution of the island’s political status that he promised to honor, endorse and take before the US Congress. This Task Force Report revealed President Obama is a friend and ally of the Puerto Rican people and our cause for self-determination, economic and sustainable recovery and prosperity (unlike his predecessors who are most remembered for their policy of lip-service):

“The Task Force recommends (consulting) all relevant parties – the president, Congress, and the leadership and people of Puerto Rico – statehood, independence, free association, and commonwealth- and have that will acted upon by the end of 2012 or soon thereafter.” (NILP: “The White House Task Force on Puerto Rico,” March 16, 2011) 

Five years later…Nada que ver.

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. 

For full article: 

http://boricuafreedomwriterspeaks.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

About Norma Burgos Vazquez

Norma Burgos Vazquez

A DiaspoRican returnee, residing in Puerto Rico since 1999, the forty-year veteran of the wars on poverty in NY, the SF/Bay Area and Comunidades Especiales (PR) has worked for federal, state and municipal island governments.  She’s a Writer’s WellLiterary Competition Winner, former public affairs writer KCBS News Radio (SF), her personal vignettes and essays appear in The Rebeldes Anthology: Bolder (Latino Rebels e-book),Border-Lines Journal, Latino Research Center, University of Nevada, Reno; La Respuesta; Mujeres Talk; Latina Lista News; Somos Primos. The Bronx Science alumna, holds a BA in Black and Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College (NYC) and education courses, La Universidad Interamericana, Guayama. And lives in Vega Alta with her daughter where she is editing her back-to-roots memoirs.

Norma Iris Lafé is her pen name

Read Part One here:

http://boricuafreedomwriterspeaks.blogspot.com/2016/07/memoir-ll-unmasking-colony.html

 

 

 

Sacred Writing Spaces

I know many writers who are quite content to write in coffee shops and diners, and between their kids’ dental appointments and soccer games. I know a few who can write on the bus, subway, or in between meetings. I am in awe of them. I’ve tried writing outside the home and it doesn’t work for me. The inevitability of major distraction is a fact: I need a sacred writing space.

I recently read two blog posts written by male writers, who said that the idea of a sacred writing space is pure hogwash, ridiciculous. I disagree, and I’m not a diva, thank you very much. The only sounds and images I want to hear and see whilst writing must come from my imagination; directly from my story and characters. How can I hear what my heroine is saying amidst singing baristas, crying babies, and people who can’t seem to speak in low tones in small spaces? And that’s just inside. Add to that, sirens or disgruntled drivers honking car horns. I can’t, but I’ve sure tried because sometimes I need human interaction as much as the next writer.

pierre on my laptop 002

Here’s what happened the last time I tried to write at one of my favorite coffee shops on a cool summer morning. I sat at my favorite table, plugged in my laptop and began to work on a chapter of my WIP. I was the only customer for an hour until a man entered the coffee shop wearing a trench coat on a summer day. Yeah, a trenchcoat. Like in the movies. He mumbled something to the owner and I began to panic, looking for the nearest exit, which was behind me. As far as I saw, he didn’t buy a thing, and when he left, I asked the owner what he’d wanted. The man was looking for work, she said. I breathed a sigh of relief, and sat back down, irritated at myself for being afraid. Then, I remembered all the shootings and bombings around the world and gave myself a break. I tried to figure out how I could add the man to a short story I’m working on, and then remembered I was there to work on an important chapter in my work in progress, a novel.

Fifteen minutes later, I became irritated by a young woman who yanked a crying toddler off the floor by his arm. Memories flooded in to when as a young mother I’d dislocating my young daughter’s elbow by pulling her up by the arm as she stepped off the curb, deadset in crossing the street alone. God, I’m so glad my kids are grown! That incident was followed by watching a woman sitting outside feeding her tiny puppy bits of an Everything bagel, and wondering why she’d do that. None of my business, I know, but I am a people watcher. I watch!

When I’m writing, I must live as a cloistered nun, sequestered from the world in a convent atop a Himalayan mountain.

I need the solitude, tranquility offered by nature while still feeling part of the world, without the crowds. It’s fortunate I live alone, so no one is bothered by my late night/early morning writing binges, which is the best time to write as far as I’m concerned. There are few cars on the road, and the only sounds I hear are the click clack of the keyboard, early morning birdsong, and the distant sound of freight trains whizzing past. Heaven.

Alone with stacks of books, notebooks, myriad stray pieces of paper with scribbled notes and quotes, a dictionary, and a thesauraus that litter my oak dining room table turned writing desk, I’m in nirvana. At this moment, there are two empty coffee cups (one from yesterday), one water glass, hand lotion, a small lamp, Chapstick, an ashtray, photos of my kids, assorted pens, pencils, and highlighters, and my cell phone, which is on mute. That’s how I like it. Oh, and a chopstick to put up my hair.

Christmas 2013 012

Last holiday season when gifts, Christmas cards, and rolls of wrapping paper took over the dining room table, I was forced to write upstairs in my bedroom–the coldest room in the house. Most days, I wrote in bed with a cold nose and a toasty body under two down comforters. The following Spring, I moved back to the dining room with a view of the garden, and by summer’s end, I’d finished the draft manuscript of my first book at my river lot on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River. With no Internet, TV, and only one radio station out there, it was perfect tranquility and silence during the week with a river view I adored. Weekends brought the ‘crazies’, the loud party people, who I tried to avoid unless family or friends were visiting. Then, of course, we joined in the merrymaking. By the following autumn, I was writing at the dining room table again.

cropped-vscocam-photo-1.jpg

I’ve since sold the river property, and my dining table has become my #1 sacred writing spot. Christmas 2017 will find me wrapping presents on the living room floor–I’m not moving all that stuff again. I happily write at the cluttered dining room table/writing desk, situated right smack in the middle of my house where I can easily get to the front door to receive packages from Amazon (books, of course). I have a beautiful view of my garden from two windows, and in ten steps, I’m at the kitchen. When I hit the lottery, I’m having a bathroom installed downstairs because as it it now, the only bathroom is upstairs and that’s a major pain. But…as it turns out, besides gardening, climbing the steep staircase of my old house is a good workout since I write for many, many hours on end.

So, if you come for dinner, my writing gear will be safely tucked into two French wicker market baskets, which I’ll hide in the armoire. You’ll never see my clutter as we wine and dine, and I’m a good cook. But I can’t promise I won’t bore you to tears talking about writing, or the book I just finished, or about my new story, book #2, and my awesome new characters.

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

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.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK