A member of the local Toast Masters Club, Ramona is also a dynamic speaker and has traveled to different states presenting to children, teachers, librarians and parent groups. Her bilingual delivery allows a wider audience to enjoy her stories and learn her precious lessons. Ramona’s award winning titles include It’s Okay To Be Different! ¡Esta Bien Ser Diferente!, Lucas and His Loco Beans, and Freaky Foods From Around the World/Platillos Sorprendentes de Todo el Mundo. She's here today to talk about her latest children's picture book, The Wooden Bowl/El bol de madera.
Welcome to Latino Books Examiner, Ramona. Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?
Gosh no. The very first time I recognized what good writing was, I was in the 8th grade. We had to write an essay and Rosie Molina wrote one on making tortillas. Her words were so descriptive I could smell the tortillas cooking the comal. I don’t remember her ending, but I do remember it being catchy. I don’t believe I read a book cover to cover until I was in high school. I had to hide to read my novels because my parents would complain that I was going to hurt my eyes by reading so much. One summer, I read through all our encyclopedias and I learned sign language out of our dictionary (I was raised in Arizona in the boonies by a very protective father). I am still a voracious reader, and now, like it or not, I wear reading glasses.
Describe your working environment.
I have a friend and well know author, Amada Perez. When I learned how disciplined she was in her writing, I was floored. “What is wrong with me?” I thought. I could never journal every day. Reality check! I can’t journal – period. My stories are constructed like a good stew. I begin with an idea that matures in my sleep, while I take my walks, while I drive in the car, while I live out my days. When the idea takes on structure, I sit at my computer and put it down on paper.
My physical office is a room in my house. Because I am in impatient soul, I publish my own books. My days are filled with writing, research, marketing, sales, bookkeeping, order fulfillment… As of late, I am considering finding an agent and finding publishers for my works instead of doing it all myself.
Who is your favorite author?
What is our favorite children’s book? My favorite author is Steinbeck and my favorite children’s book is Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard. When I read this book I think to myself, “I wish I would have thought this one up!”
What are you working on now?
My next project is titled: Mesquite Queen – Reyna del Mesquite. As a young girl growing up in Arizona, I spent most of my days outside playing underneath the Mesquite trees. We snacked on the seedpods and the sap produced by the trees at the peak of summer. Little did I know, people had been using the flowers, the seedpods, the sap, and the wood for hundred’s of years. The health benefits of using the fruits of these trees are well documented. The story leads the reader to believe the girl is moving through a parade where she will be crowned Queen of the Mesquite. In the end you find she was perched in a Mesquite tree imagining her coronation. Throughout the story the reader learns how her family’s life has been intertwined with Mesquite trees.
Tell us about your recent release.
My new book is The Wooden Bowl/El bol de madera. I encountered this story on inspirational blogs on the internet. It took me two years of research to learn that this was a Grimm’s fairy tale. I decided to write this story from the child’s perspective and make it bilingual to include a larger audience. Variations of this tale are found in the Mexican and Asian cultures. It promotes caring for our elderly relatives in a kind and respectful manner. After all, we are all headed in that direction. I liked this story because the message has no cultural, socio-economic, or generational boundaries.
What’s next on my horizons?
I love public speaking. As an award-winning author of children’s books, I have had many opportunities to address groups of educators across the United States. I have developed a workshop titled, Celebrating Diversity, that teaches educators how to incorporate cultural information into their existing school curriculum. Receiving emails from teachers telling me how they used the information I provided them with in the workshops, has been rewarding. I am a strong believer that we fear what we don’t understand. I believe we should be learning more about the people we call neighbors, we should celebrate the contributions different cultures have made to our society, and we need to keep an open mind.