November 6, 2013

WRITERS WEDNESDAY: ALIDIS VICENTE

  
The Latina Book Club's mission is to promote Latina / Latino authors, which we do through book reviews, author interviews, publicity announcements, book of the month selections, etc. A new feature we have added to our site is that of "Writers Wednesdays." The first Wednesday of each month we feature a writer talking about .....writing.  Happy Reading!
  
 

I NEVER FORGET THE SOFRITO
by Alidis Vicente


Two years ago my son’s nursery school teacher asked to speak to me about something he said in school. Like any mother, I prepared for the worst. Then she asked me to translate what my son meant when he said, “I had pansito for breakfast, but it was too hot for my lengua”. That moment provided the affirmation needed for my writing endeavors.

Shortly after my son was born, I decided to take my love of writing more seriously. I remember going to a major bookstore in search of reading material he could culturally relate to. A store employee referred me to a section called “Libros Para Niños”. After scanning the shelves, I saw very little literature I felt represented the cultural experience my children would have as second generation Puerto Ricans born and raised in New Jersey. I immediately went home and put pen to paper… literally. If I didn’t see the kind of books I wanted to read to my kids, then I would write them myself.

My publication journey would prove challenging. I wrote manuscripts but had no idea what to do with them. So, I did the only logical thing one does this day and age when they don’t know something. I googled it. After sifting through countless websites, I finally hit gold. I joined the Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). They provided me with a treasure trove of knowledge, information, contacts, and support. It was through this membership I learned everything from how to write a query to negotiating contracts. Within a year of joining the organization I received my first offer of publication. It wasn’t a huge publishing house or even substantial monetary compensation, but it was my name in print and my story in binding. It was everything I dreamed of.

Although it only took a year to find a publisher, rejection letters were delivered in bulk to my mailbox. Landing a literary agent was even more frustrating. It took me twice as long to find representation as it did to obtain a publisher. I sent submissions, both multiple and exclusive, to countless publishers and literary agencies. The only thing worse than receiving rejections in my SASE’s were the crickets I heard regarding the remainder of my submissions. My husband suggested I take my “Gracias, but no gracias” letters, as I called them, and tape them around our bedroom for motivation. I refused. The only letter I wanted to keep was the one that said “sí”, because it was the only one that mattered to me. Unfortunately, the postman never delivered the acceptance letter I expected… because it came in an email.

Currently, I am the author of a picture book, a chapter book, and a client of Writers House Literary Agency. Although I strive to write stories I feel are relatable to young readers of all ethnic backgrounds, I make sure to approach my work like my cooking. I never forget the sofrito.###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Alidis Vicente is the author of THE COQUÍ & THE IGUANA and THE MISSING CHANCLETA AND OTHER TOP SECRET CASES, which will be published in November of this year by Arte Publico Press. Alidis is a stay at home mother from New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University. Visit her at any of these addresses:

www.alidisvicente.com
http://writingincrayon.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alidis-Vicente/163445367124651