Interview with Raynelda A Calderon

author of The Mirabal Sisters: From Caterpillars to Butterflies

Raynelda A Calderon offers up some great advice for writers in today’s interview. Keep reading after that to learn how to enter the giveaway for a copy of The Mirabal Sisters.

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What books do you recommend for an aspiring writer?

I loved On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, and Paulo Coelho: A Warrior’s Life by Fernando Morais. They both inspired me to try and try.

What’s your Go-To source when you need inspiration?

I don’t think I have a source to go to for inspiration. It’s more like inspiration comes to me when I least expect it. I might be reading a certain children’s book and suddenly realize that a similar book is missing about Hispanics. And that is when I get inspired!

Do you create elaborate outlines for your books? If so, can you explain the process (briefly)? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants? If so, do you have any tricks you use to keep yourself from crashing?

I definitely fly by the seat of my pants! I do take notes of details and facts that I consider interesting, and later on put them in a coherent order. But other than the usual beginning-middle-end obvious format, I don’t create outlines. As for crashing… When I get stuck, I just give it up and move on to something else. Then I would read something online about the figure I’m writing about and that gives me what I was missing to continue the book.

What was the greatest challenge you faced when writing the book? How did you get through it?

The greatest challenge of this book was incorporating the four sisters to the story from beginning to end rather than just the usual three of them. You know, people just think of the Mirabal sisters as Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa. But I pretty much consider Dedé, the sister who survived, a butterfly too. As she used to say in her interviews, she is the one who stayed to tell the story.

If you have a writing ritual, can you share that here?

I do not! I tried to get into a ritual thinking that a real writer should have a writing habit (e.g., get up every morning at a certain time to write), but it didn’t work with me. I would get up early in the morning “to write” but would end up drawing instead. Why, the inspiration to write didn’t come to me so early in the morning! But my drawing ritual works!

In what genres have you written? And which of them gives you the most satisfaction?

I have written both fiction and non-fiction. I get the most satisfaction from non-fiction. I just find it hard to write fiction! With non-fiction, I feel that I don’t have to “create” an ending. In biographies, the ending is already there for me.

What one piece of advice can you offer to a writer who has yet to tackle the publishing world?

To always, hire an editor/proofreader. Don’t rely on relatives and friends to go over your manuscript. It is not the same to read for free than being paid to read.

What one piece of advice can you offer to the more experienced writer who is having a bad day/week/year/decade?

Ohhh! We all have those. It isn’t your year? Maybe the next one will be! Read some stories of success like Paulo Coelho’s biography. Actually, it doesn’t necessarily need to be about writing. I like reading about ventures that didn’t take off right away, people who “made it” after years of trying. I compare myself to them and think that my moment hasn’t arrived yet, but it will come. And as Aaliyah used to sing, “If at first you don’t succeed, you can dust it off and try again.”

Born in a small town in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters lived at a time when the country was under the merciless rule of a dictatorship. Their deaths on November 25, 1960 (at ages 36, 34, and 25), have received international coverage. In their honor, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is observed annually on November 25.

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The Mirabal Sisters: From Caterpillars to Butterflies Book Tour Giveaway

About the Author

Raynelda A. Calderón, a Dominican native who lives in Queens, NY, is a children’s book author who has worked in public libraries for more than 15 years. She holds a doctorate in leadership in higher education, and she has taught Information Literacy at various colleges, most recently at Bronx Community College. As a librarian, working with children inspires Raynelda to write about the accomplishments of Hispanic women in history. She hopes to inspire young readers to follow their passions and never take no for an answer. Raynelda is the creator of the first Hispanic Heritage wall calendar that honors the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans in the United States. She lives with an untamed Shih Tzu, Toby, and a much attached Chihuahua, Maya. She spends her free time thinking (and drafting) about books to write, or painting, crocheting, or crying over abused dogs.

connect with the author: author’s website ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads