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A Chat with Latina Author Jonisha Rios

Jonisha Rios is an accomplished screenwriter, author, director and actress that currently resides in California. She teaches Solo-show workshops to adults and kids. 
What’s inside the mind of a chica lit author?
I have always been somewhat of an optimist. I like to find the humor in things that bug me.  For example imagine you take a bite of your favorite slice of pizza and as your chewing, you feel the icky sensation of a strand  of hair on your tongue.  Not your own hair that has gotten caught in your mouth which is gross enough, but someone else’s dirty ass strand of hair  IN YOUR MOUTH!!!  Yuck! You  were enjoying your slice. You were also hungry.  Now what? Should you 
A) Scream at the cook demand a whole pizza pie.  
B) Spit it out and say to yourself “Hey maybe its time I start my new diet.  I shouldn’t be eating this crap anyway." 
c) Or C– You Imagine a character named Goldie who has just had the same experience. She slowly puts down her piece of pizza and slowly pulls that sucker out of her mouth and says "You gotta love this place...they didn't charge for extra ingredients."  As she sarcastically shares her disgusting discovery with the tall dark and handsome man sitting next to her at the pizza shop- he suddenly decides to ask her out on a real date to prove to her that there are some dining experiences that don't end up with a hair in your food.  She blushes. He pushes his tray aside and rises from his seat. He approaches her and touches her hand ever so gently and says "Let's get out of here and eat some real food." 
You see how I did that.  Find the positive and the humor in all things painful and even icky, then you start to live a fun life. Or at least try to. 
What is so great about being an author?
That! You imagination can run as far as you want it to go without anyone ever even having to know. You get to say it like you want it, with no fear,  or no judgment.  Don’t get me wrong, if you do end up with a publishing team they may step in and hack your book to bits, I mean  edit your work and make some changes.  However, the intention of your words and your story don’t ever really change. It only gets better.   For me writing is the only time, I get to not only use my imagination so freely and paint pictures or scenarios I can live.  I can write an essay about the love affair Johnny Depp and I had years ago when I met him in Paris as a quaint little cafe, and for me that shit is real.  
When do you hate it?
When I have to rewrite over and over again, or figure out the heady stuff, like formatting or searching out repeat words.  Every time I got notes I read my book from cover to cover sometimes twice a day. So that was tedious because there was always something I wanted to change. And at some point I just said to my agent “I don’t want to look at it anymore, I trust you."  You have to eventually trust others to step in because your “team” has got your back. 
What is a regular writing day like for you?
Yikes, with a 3 year-old I have to wait until he goes to sleep or ask my husband to hang out for the day so that I can write. So its really a gift to be able to sneak off and write. 
Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?
Who doesn’t have an ego from time to time? Its how you use it that matters, you make it your friend but you put it in check because you are not your ego- you are the creator behind it.  I do have fun with wacky characters that will just express their egos fully so that’s always a good way to deal with that.  Just create a character that is an asshole from time to time and you will have fun with it in a positive way. 
How do you handle negative reviews?
I don’t read my reviews, good or bad.  I create and all I care about is setting out to complete what I created and do it well.  Then I let it go. There are millions of people with millions of perceptions and ideas about what they think you are really saying when in reality sometimes I write things that just make only me laugh.  Truly that is enough.  Obviously if I can put a smile other peoples faces or inspire anyone beyond a silly giggle here and there, then that is a bonus. However, I create because its fun.  Its my escape. Somehow when I became an adult and a mom, I forgot how to have a little fun- but when I write I remember. 
How do you handle positive reviews?
Same way I do with the negative- I don’t read it. But I appreciate the person who took the time to write it so if its positive and the intentions are good then I may glance if my agent wants me to.  
What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
I have been positively embraced for being a successful accomplished Puerto Rican Female writer, and up until now I kept quiet about it, but dammit I am proud of myself in a loving way- I use to hide. I have even said it here, I just would create and then let it go or walk away. Only I recently realized after becoming a mom that you should be proud of your creations.  Especially when your creations become a career.  I use to be a starving artist- those days are over. I value my work. The same way I’m proud of my son. I'm proud to call myself a working artist and published author.  Its all sacred- even you what your doing right now is sacred, it’s a contribution. A positive one. 
What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
I don’t write.  I just don’t put that kind of pressure on myself. Who wants to read that kind of book?  You feel it when a book is written to meet a deadline.  The flow is off. It becomes  over processed - over thought out. 
Any writing quirks?
I like to write to goofy music as an exercise.  The stuff that comes out makes me laugh. I have a track of goofy songs I play from the Violent Femmes and Joe Cuba is an old school Boogaloo musician whose music I adore. It always puts me in a good mood. 
What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
Who cares. I would do Nothing.  It’s their loss they are the ones missing out on a new experience by not reading my words.  I use to love the movie “Clueless” I thought it was a goof. So I remember suggesting it to a good friend of mine who needed a laugh- her response was “Ugh! I hate movies like that.” I was like “How do you know, you have never seen it.” She said, “I don’t know but I just know I won’t like it.”  I said “Ok”.  She didn’t even want to try to see if it would make her laugh.  Some people know what they like, some know what they don’t, and some people miss out, by not taking a chance on a new story, or movie, or even a piece of clothing.  So it’s their loss. In due time they will either read it or won’t.  None of that will stop me from doing what I love. In general however, I will say that I don’t really associate with people that don’t support me.  As I’ve become older and wiser, I found it healthier to surround myself with people I want to be most like and fortunately for me, they are all very supportive and talented. 
Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate? 
Sure I do, once it becomes a job its like anything else, some days you want to do it and some days you just want to watch Sex and the City with a glass of wine in hand.  Thing is writing is a choice, so its always a gift and some people don’t make time to do it, therefore they loose their privilege the moment they say no that day, make sense? 
Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?
No, but I do think that money comes when you value your work.  I use to do lots of free shows and write for people and when I decided to put my book out there, I knew it was valuable.  At first I didn’t do it for the money, I just wanted to finish my book. And then I got an agent and a team and realized I could pursue this as my profession. That was when my book became my business. If I eat we all eat.  Freebies are fine to get you to the finish line but if you want to have a career you need to do the work. When I decided to finish my book with full promotions I considered myself to be a professional author in that moment. It was then that I respected my work enough to try to sell it on my own, and around that time was when I attracted my fabulous agent who published the book for me in the end, she completely believed in my work and that came as a result of me valuing myself enough to put it out there. 
What had writing taught you?
Writing has taught me that the imagination is a wonderful tool you can access at any time to create, to heal, to explore, to release, and to express that dynamic part of you that is one with all that is. It is also something you can utilize to create a business for yourself if you are consistent.  
Leave us with some words of wisdom.
Do you Boo! Be fearless and the world will take notice. And if that world consists only of you and your son— then he will take notice and that is all that matters. Be well and enjoy my book!

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