Photo © Ariana Aguero.
Nayda Rondon, who was born in Cuba and has been a Bergen County resident for more than 15 years, is an editor/writer with more than 20 years of experience with diverse national and regional publications, blogs and organizations on wide-ranging topics such as parenting, lifestyle, kids and young adults, collectibles, multicultural issues, volunteering, non-profits, health and fitness, and wellness. She's also a proud member of the BCCLS family, happily serving as the Adult Program Coordinator at the Montvale Free Public Library. ALI AND THE NEW GIRL ¡HOLA MI AMIGA! is her first children's picture book.
A graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, she also holds a master's degree in Spanish literature from New York University.
What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?
I'm actually re-reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. Believing there are just "too many great books, too little time," I rarely read a book more than once. But this 936-page historical novel about Richard III and the Wars of the Roses is so compelling, well-written and filled with such complex, conflicted and fascinating characters that it draws me back time and again. It has it all – history, love, intrigue, betrayal, pageantry, mystery, tragedy! I love re-visiting that world and reveling in the writer's nuanced portrayals of these controversial historical figures.
And I find the writer's own story just as fascinating, and so motivational. In total, in took her about 12 years to write. The first manuscript was stolen from her car. Apparently it was at a time when there were only typewriters, and she hadn't made a copy of the original 400-page manuscript. Imagine how she must have felt when her one and only copy was gone! I'd have gone nuts! She was pretty devastated because she didn't write any fiction again for five years. But then she started again, and she wrote and wrote and wrote. The result: the 936-page epic tale that was eventually published. Now, that's a story of persistence and passion! I have two other books in the works – one is a historical fiction set in the time of Richard the Lionheart, the other a contemporary coming of age story – that I've been working on and off (mostly off) since my college days. Whenever I get totally discouraged that I'll never finish either, I remember Sharon Kay Penman.
Where do you go to get inspired?
My dreams and imagination
What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?
How much fun I'm having with the marketing/promotional aspects of getting my book out into the world. It's so energizing to go to book reading and signing events at places like libraries, schools and senior centers, and meet the people who are buying and reading my book. At my core, I'm shy and hate the thought of "selling" myself and my work, but I've been pleasantly surprised to discover how I'm pushing past my own self-imposed limitations and growing more open to putting myself out there, to be vulnerable and open to rejection and criticism. And really surprising and thrilling is the fact that reaction has been purely positive so far. Getting people's feedback and having them share their personal life experiences and anecdotes is so wonderful and encouraging for me. I'm a people person, and I'm genuinely touched and surprised by how many kind, caring people there are out there; how many people want to help, encourage and see me succeed.
Where do you write?
At my dining room table. I spread out all my papers – handwritten scraps of character notes; yellow legal pads scribbled with research and snatches of dialogue; journal entries with story ideas and inspirational quotes, etc., etc. – and then I read them and let them battle in my brain to live or die. The bits that survive, I write on my Mac. Once the words are on the computer screen, it's usually all about revise, revise, revise.
What/who makes you laugh? Why?
My husband and daughter are my favorite playmates. When everyday pressures get to be too much, it's not only fun but essential to be silly. It's also very liberating to feel so comfortable with someone that you can totally let go and be your zaniest and craziest. Sometimes we'll crack one another up by recalling some ridiculous thing we watched on TV or some misadventure that's happened to us (usually on vacation), and we'll laugh so hard that we'll literally be crying.
Favorite fictional character ever?
Honestly, I don't have one.
What do you want readers to know about you and your books?
We try our hardest to be our best and most authentic; we strive to be a genuine source of inspiration and encouragement, and a voice for acceptance and inclusion of diverse people, ideas and ways of life.
What are you working on?
A freelance editor/writer by day, I'm doing so much feature writing and editing work for magazines, proposal and promotional writing for non-profits, and ghostwriting for private clients that I'm afraid I'm currently not able to do much fiction writing during my "off" time, which between work, family, volunteer and social commitments, is essentially never.