Niche Mommy, Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, was born and raised in Queens, New York. She may be a secretary by day, grad student and blogger by night, but she is a Mami round the clock. Her writing has been featured on several blog sites including Parents.com. AutismWonderland is also ranked #10 on Babble’s Top 30 Autism Blogs for Parents. In between work, school, blog writing and advocating for her 6 year old son, she is also working on a historical fiction novel (working title) A Thousand Branches. A chapter excerpt (The Last Time of Anything) from A Thousand Branches received Honorable Mention in Glimmertrain’s Family Matters October 2010 competition.
We couldn’t wait to find out more about Lisa.
Niche Mommy (NM): What did you want to be when you grew up? What was your dream job?
Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (LQF): As a child, I had an extremely vivid imagination so I changed my mind often. I wanted to be a lawyer, actress, writer, teacher, nun (only after seeing The Sound of Music), flight attendant and a Solid Gold dancer. Clearly none of those ‘dreams’ worked out just yet and working as a legal secretary is hardly my dream. But the more I write and the harder I work, the closer I’m getting to my achieving my dream job.
NM: What influenced you to start blogging and why?
LQF: AutismWonderland started out in September 2010 as a graduate school class assignment. The purpose was to build an online presence. Immediately I knew I wanted to start a blog and I knew exactly what I wanted to blog about. I wanted to write about the simple joys of raising a child with special needs; celebrating all of my son Norrin’s achievements, as well as the frustrations of dealing with a broken education and health care system. As a writer, I wanted to share our journey because I felt it was one many families could relate to and learn from. When Norrin was diagnosed with autism, all the books I read were written by upper middle class Caucasian women who were able to give up their careers to stay home with their children. These women lived in suburban parts of the country and their life was so far from my reality. While their stories provided valuable information and hope, there was something missing. And so I wanted my blog, AutismWonderland, to fill that void.
NM: If they made a movie of your blog, which actress would you want to play you?
LQF: I would love for it to be an unknown actress without any Hollywood connections. A woman who is completely unassuming and who wears an average woman’s dress size; someone with raw talent and a passion for their craft. Acting and writing is similar in the sense that, there is so much unbelievable talent that goes undiscovered because no one is willing to give them a chance. We aren’t born with experience and opportunity; we all have to start somewhere.
NM: What on your resume are you most proud of?
LQF: This is tough for me. I am extremely proud of this last year; I was invited to a White House Press Conference as a Top Bloguera, AutismWonderland was ranked #10 on Babble’s Top 30 Autism Blogs for Parents and I was published on Parents.com for Autism Awareness Month. But my proudest achievement has nothing to do with writing. This year, I was able to secure a non public school placement for Norrin and I was able to do so without a lawyer. This year I proved to be Norrin’s strongest advocate.
NM: How do you spend your free time?
LQF: I sleep – that’s about the only free time, I truly have. And I wish I had more of it.
NM: What do you think is your biggest hurdle?
LQF: Often, my biggest hurdle is myself. I am the person that holds me back. Once I get out of my own way, I can do what needs to get done. It’s a daily battle.
NM: What’s on your bucket list for 2012?
LQF: To get a full week of 8 hours uninterrupted sleep.
NM: What’s your cure for writer’s block?
LQF: I stop. I step away and think about other things. Sometimes I start doing something mindless – washing dishes, folding clothes, some thing where I’m keeping busy but still allows me to think.
NM: Who is your Shero and why?
LQF: Esmeralda Santiago. Her life, her writing has been such an inspiration for me. I grew up reading. I was that nerd girl whose nose was always in a book. My mother would have to tell me to stop reading. But never had I read about a girl like me; with black hair and brown skin and brown eyes with a name too difficult to pronounce. For me, the name Esmeralda Santiago rolled off my tongue easily. And even though I didn’t speak Spanish, I understood every word that was sprinkled throughout. It was the first time a book had spoken to me, the first time I could truly identify with a narrator and I could so effortlessly hear the sound of her voice. It was both strange and completely familiar. Up until this point, I didn’t know a book like this existed. It was an empowering. And it was then that I knew I needed to keep reading, to seek out other Latina authors. And I also knew that it was time to start writing.
NM: Mac or PC?
LQF: I use a PC at work and a Mac at home. I love the both for different reasons. But if Mac could just perfect that right click, I’d never look at another PC again.
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