Meet Rising Star
Author Daniela Ramirez
AD: Hi Daniela! I’m so excited to have you on the blog today. You had an exciting moment in your writing career happen earlier this year when you connected with your now agent, Charlotte Wenger of Prospect Literary. Can you tell us a little bit more about this experience and what’s next now that you’ve landed an agent?
DR: Hi Amanda! Yes, I signed with Charlotte Wenger of Prospect Agency in Jan 2021, and I’m beyond thrilled to be working with her! I learned about a writing conference on Twitter called, Writing Day Workshop. Due to the pandemic, it was all being held online, including one-on-one pitch sessions with agents. I had been querying for a few months already and figured why not. I was so excited to pitch to Charlotte, I was very interested in her experience as an editor and her MSWL! We had our 15-minute zoom session, and she requested my work! Working with Charlotte is such an incredible time in my writing life, and I can’t wait until my work is out in the world.
AD: That’s amazing! Congratulations to you and Charlotte! I actually signed with my current agent, Jennifer Unter at the virtual Boston Writing Day Workshop, too! I’ve met some other wonderful agents at that conference as well. How funny! Goes to show that taking a risk and putting yourself out there to pitch your work can in fact lead to meaningful connections! Hooray to the Writing Day Workshops! Can’t wait to see what’s next for you!
Alrighty, let’s hop into our interview so we can get to know more about you and your work. Let’s start with a speed round…
- Top three favorite children’s books of all time? Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina and Sonia Sanchez, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Patricia Castelao, and With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo.
- Coffee, tea (or neither)? Tea. I love tea while I write!
- Where is your safe place? With my husband in the mountains.
- Dogs, cats, (or neither)? Dogs! The MC of my MG novel was inspired by my late beagle. There is nothing like the love and friendship of an amazing pet!
- Early bird or night owl? It depends on what kind of day I’ve had with my kiddos. Sometimes I find the energy to write after they go to bed.
- Three words to describe what it takes to make it in the kidlit world…community, practice, and believing.
AD: Please dish us the dirt on who you are and your journey into the fabulous world of children’s books.
AD: Did you always know you wanted to be an author? Have you explored other paths or had/have other jobs?
DR: I have but it wasn’t something that I was very confident about growing up. I was not a strong reader. I remember our family trips to the library where my big sister would check out a mountain of books and I would check out movies-haha. I had a hard time learning how to read and I’m thankful my parents got me the extra help I needed. It took time to gain my reading confidence but once I did, there was no looking back. Stories are such a part of me now and stay with me. As a kid reading good books and my first writing assignments are where I felt seen and understood. My hope is that my stories can do the same for young readers, especially Latinx kids. I never saw myself in books growing up. I’m so thankful to all the amazing Latinx creators out there, like Meg Medina, Matt de la Pena and NoNieqa Ramos, because now my kids are getting to see themselves. And that is so powerful!
In college I studied Sociology. Before I had my kids, I worked for a nonprofit and as a military civilian. Writing was always in my heart. I would gather story ideas and tell my husband that one day I would write them. My motivation for my writing really changed after becoming a Mama. My heart was on fire to make my dreams come true, inspire my kiddos and help make the world a better place for my little loves.
AD: Your journey is so inspiring, Daniela! From a hesitant reader to now a writer yourself, you are living out your heart’s passion and desires. I love that you strive to make the world a better place through your stories and help children feel seen and understood through your work.
“My stories focus on love and family, the ones we are born into and the ones we choose for ourselves.”
AD: What topics or themes do you tend to focus on in your writing? Favorite genres you like to write in?
DR: My stories focus on love and family, the ones we are born into and the ones we choose for ourselves. I feel like all of my stories simply show Latinx joy. Since I moved to many places as a kid and now as an adult, I explore the theme of change in my writing a lot. I really enjoy sharing my culture and windows into my own family experience as well. My PBs really tune into those fun family moments.My MG novel, which I am currently revising, is a contemporary fantasy but still has core themes of love and belonging. I love writing fantasy. I will forever love the idea of magic being around the corner and adventure waiting for me.
AD: What a beautiful reminder that families can take all shapes and forms. Magic and wonder in the world is something we can always use a bit more of in our lives!
AD: Breaking into the publishing industry is not easy! What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far? What have you done to persevere?
DR: For me, it’s about not getting discouraged and to keep growing as a writer. It has taken time to learn that my writing process needs time and I have to give myself that space. I am always grateful to my husband for giving me this reminder, especially on the days where balancing motherhood and writing can feel like a lot. Also, big shout out to my great mentors and writing friends who always give me support and encouragement.
Being connected to my writing and books is important to me. When I have had stages where I was not writing regularly, like two years ago we were moving across the country and I was pregnant, a close mentor of mine encouraged me to keep reading and honor the chapter that my life was currently in. That time I gave myself helped my creativity and gave me the inspiration to write PB!
AD: This last part really resonates with me, Daniela. There have been periods of time in my own life recently where I haven’t been focusing on my writing or creating regularly. It’s easy to get down on ourselves because of this or feel like we need to be producing all the time. Thanks for the reminder to honor where we are at, in the moment, because usually, that’s exactly where we are supposed to be.
AD: As creators (and humans), we tend to focus on the flaws of our creations or areas for improvement. This helps us grow and develop, but we need not forget the many things we are doing well. With this in mind, what has been your biggest accomplishment or something you are most proud of thus far on your writing journey?
DR: I would have to say deciding to write PB too! I just jumped into an idea one day and drafted it. Then told myself I have a lot to learn and got a bunch of craft books. It has really challenged me as a writer, but I feel like learning to write PB has improved my writing overall and I even see it when I write MG now too.
AD: Congrats on diving into PBs! Continuing to challenge ourselves with new ideas, forms, or projects is what will enable us to grow and develop. Lean into the discomfort!
AD: In a similar vein, what do you feel are your strengths as an author? What makes your writing unique to you?
DR: I love getting to the heart of my stories. Typically, when I start drafting a new story idea, the heart of the story comes to me first and I build around that concept. As I revise, it serves as my guiding voice and motivation. As a reader I love when books impact me emotionally and enjoy being invested in characters. That is exactly what I try to do in my writing!
AD: What inspires your work?
DR: My children, experiencing the world through their eyes fuels my creativity and fills my mama heart. My own childhood was spent moving around, being the new kid and making new friends. As an adult I still do this but trust me it is so much easier as a kid. I’m inspired by all creativity! The kidlit community is so helpful and generous, that has been such an inspiration to me.
“Notebooks, pens, and Post It’s are my love language.”
AD: Tell us about your creative process and what you do to keep ideas flowing or what you do when feeling stuck?
DR: For me it’s about pockets of time that I can find through out the day. I love writing by hand especially when I’m drafting a PB or working on an outline. Notebooks, pens, and Post It’s are my love language. Moving my body and getting out into nature with my kids really helps my creativity, so I try to do that every day. I love to listen to writing podcasts while I walk and recently, I have been enjoying Las Musas podcast! I feel like staying in touch with the writing world really helps to keep me connected. I was a part of the Highlights Latinx Symposium last year and that really motivated me.
When I am stuck, I will walk away from it and work on something else or listen to good music. It usually comes to me while doing the dishes and singing along to Selena. Also voice memos on my phone are life savers for those moments where I can’t get to my notebook or have a kid on my hip.
AD: I love that you enjoy writing by hand. There’s something special about putting the pen or pencil to paper. Sometimes it can just flow out! I love walking and podcast listening, too! I’ll have to check out Las Musas!
AD: What sorts of things have been most integral in your growth as an author?
DR: Community and honestly just writing regularly. I know now that it takes time for my writing to form and to get to a good place but in order to do that I have to WRITE! Some days are good writing days and some days it’s just about getting the words on the page. I try to invest my time into my craft as well, I’m always on the lookout for new classes or books to help me grow. I enjoy all classes I have ever taken with SCBWI. Also, this year I took a fantastic class with Nina LaCour called Projects & Practice. Recently I attended my first Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference, all online and that was one of the most incredible conference experiences I have had. I keep a pile of craft books on my desk to reference. Mentor texts are so helpful to me. I try to read as much as I can in my genre. I read a lot on my phone with the Libby app! Yay for libraries!
AD: What advice do you have for fellow kidlit creatives?
DR: To connect with other writers, find your people and invest in those relationships! I have grown so much as a writer by these beautiful friendships and connections I have in my life now. There is such lovely vulnerability in sharing your work with others and reading theirs, it really does help you grow.
AD: Yes! We’re all on this path together. Being vulnerable with one another can help us feel more connected and less alone in this sometimes crazy business of publishing!
AD: Thank you so much for stopping by the blog, Daniela, and congrats again on signing with Charlotte! I appreciate you sharing a bit about yourself and contributing to the Rising Stars in Kidlit series We can’t wait to read your fun, familial, love-filled and joy-filled stories! I look forward to getting a sneak peek into your Latinx culture and learning more about your life experiences through your words. Feel free to drop a comment below to support Daniela and her work, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out and follow along on Twitter at #RisingStarsinKidlit! I’d also like to remind everyone that I have my first 30,000 STITCHES virtual celebration happening TOMORROW, 4/27 at The Silver Unicorn Bookstore. The event is FREE and open to the public. I’ll be in conversation with New York Say Thank You Foundation Founder and Executive Director, Jeff Parness and Flag Tour Staff members Carolyn and Denny Deters. We’ll be chatting all about their journey with the flag and reflecting on the upcoming 20-year remembrance. I hope you can join us! Click here for more info and the link to register!