Debra Silva Rivera

Writer, Middle Grade

In June of 2013, I went to Winston-Salem, N.C for my niece’s college graduation. We celebrated her graduation dinner at the beautiful Grayln Estate Hotel. During my walk around the spacious property, I talked with some of the friendly staff. I asked if they could tell me what famous people visit Grayln. I was told that Orphra Winfrey visits yearly to celebrate Maya Angelou’s birthday. Maya lived in Winston-Salem. I was so excited to hear this news. Maya and Oprah partied in the same room that I was having dinner. Small world. I loved reading Maya Angelou’s books. My all-time favorite was I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings. I had recently read her latest book at the time, Mom&Me&Mom. I daydreamed of stopping in at the Grayln on Maya’s next birthday, hoping to meet her and Oprah. The following May 2014, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. After watching some of the news last night I woke up this morning thinking of Maya and wanting of her poetry. I remember listening to her read ‘On the Pulse of Morning’. Her inauguration poem. How uplifting and hopeful it was. I thought I’d add it to my blog. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Below are two links that you might be interested in reading. The first is an Blog interview that I did with middle grade writer, Tina L. Peterson. If you get a chance you should get her book Oscar and the Amazing Gravity Repellent. It’s a great book to read to an elementary class or your child at bedtime.

The second is a essay I wrote that was published in Military Spouse, an online magazine. I hope you enjoy checking out both.

 

http://www.tinalpeterson.com/blog/2017/09/07/real-life-diversity-in-middle-grade-books/

 

http://militaryspouse.com/military-life/vietnam-through-the-eyes-of-a-child/

I met writer Christina Garcia this past summer at her writing workshop, L. One night during the week long workshop staff read from their works. The reading took place at a the Alleycat Bookstore. It was a packed house. Christina read an excerpt from her yet to be released book,  Here in Berlin. I got the book when it came out in October, 2017-loved it. One of her earlier novels Dreaming in Cuban is another great read.

This past summer I was fortunate enough to go to Los Dos Brujas writing workshop in the Mission District of San Francisco. Los Dos Brujas was founded by writers, Christina Garcia and Carolina De Robertis. I worked for one week with Carolina and thirteen other great writers. Carolina was so generous with her teaching. Again, I learned a lot. I am now working on my second middle grade novel that I work shopped with Carolina. That’s me and Carolina during a class break.

 

Voices of Our National Arts (vona)

VONA is a summer writing workshop for diverse writers. It was co-founded by writers, Junot Diaz and Elmaz Abinader.

I was lucky enough to attend two VONA writing workshops. In my first year of attendance I worked on my writing with travel writer Faith Adele. It was a great experience. Every day for a week I listened and shared my writing with Faith and ten other writers. I learned so much.

Two years later, I applied again and was in a class with writer, Chris Abani. Again, a great experience. After this workshop I made the decision to focus my time and energy into writing. Chris gave me some great advice and it paid off. I completed my first manuscript. It’s a middle grade novel and I’m currently in the process of seeking an agent to help with publishing. Chris was a guest poet at Cornell University and I went to see him. I sat in the middle row of the auditorium and when he walked in to read his beautiful poetry, he spotted me and came right over and gave me a big hug.  He was so welcoming and I couldn’t believe that he remembered me from the summer writing workshop. That’s how special he and all the teachers at VONA were.

 

%d bloggers like this: