“People make fun of me because my last name is Grande, but I am actually very short,” said Reyna Grande. However, after her book reading on Tuesday, listeners knew height was the only place she fell short.
Reyna Grande, author of “Over 100 Mountains and Dancing With Butterflies” (set to be released Oct. 6), has literally crossed mountains to get to the place she stands today. Left behind in Mexico by both parents at age 5, her parents promised they were going to the U.S. to make money to build a home for her and her family. Grande was unable to reunite with them again until the age of 10, when, to her dismay, she found her father had a new wife.
“My father became an alcoholic shortly after I moved in. It was then that the two Reyna’s were developed. The frightened, shy Reyna, and the confident Reyna who knew she could get through anything. The latter.is standing in front of you today.” In her later years, a teacher pulled her from her father’s alcoholic home and introduced her to Sandra Cisneros, a famous Latina writer. It was then that her “a-ha moment” occurred and she knew she wanted to write. After she knew what she wanted, she incorporated this horrifying stage of her life into her writing and it gave her the emotion she needed to write her novels. She ripped out her painful experiences and threw them onto the pages.
“I know I sound crazy. Well. maybe I am, but it is that craziness that (made) me a good writer,” Grande said.
When asked to give advice to potential writers, Grande said, “Just keep writing, and read, read, read! You cannot be a good writer unless you are a good reader first. Put yourself out there, because you have to realize and get used to the fact that you will get rejected time after time. You have to toughen your skin and realize that all it takes is one “yes” and you can get published. Submit your work to publishers looking for essays, short stories . find a support network and just have a goal and stick to it.”
After the writing process is over, the extensive job of selling your novel begins. “Writers I know have been forced to change their names because their reputations suffered due to the fact that their first novels did not sell,” Grande continued. “In turn, they couldn’t get anyone to purchase their second ones. On the other hand, if your novel does very well, then you have an immense amount of pressure to do even better on your second. People, and publishers expect more out of you.” To ensure she sold her books, Grande went as far as selling them from the trunk of her car.
Grande was one of several presenters at the International Book Fair, which took place Sept. 28 through Oct. 3.