August 2, 2013

Writing to Inspire Others

By Maritza Mejia Martinez

As a mother, author, advocate, educator and speaker, my motivating passion is to help children and teenagers through inspiring and creative stories even when my writing style may be rejected–English is my second language after Spanish.

While a teenager, I enjoyed writing inspiring messages and poems for my friends in my native language. As a mother, I developed the necessity to write short stories in English for my children to teach them moral values that I could not find in the books at the library.  As I grew older, I ventured to write my memoir in a foreign language for respect to my relatives who did not want me to share my spiritual life, but my spirit moved me to write Hazel Eyes, an inspirational book for teenagers and adults published in 2010.

Writing a memoir connects our common stories that we experience beginning with our childhood and on through adulthood. This type of writing process serves as a wonderful healer. I wrote Hazel Eyes to take the reader on a journey to view my personal life and to reveal my experience of faith.

It took me nearly three years to write, research, and re-write since it was painful for me to remember some bad memories from my life as a child, doubts and questions as a teenager, and sadly moments as an adult like the loss of my parents. At the same time, it was breathtaking to remember my life as an adventurer traveling and working in different countries all over the word until the moment I met my Prince Charming and married. Since that moment, my life changed completely. I experienced the miracle of life as a mother and the enormous challenges that represent being a parent.  I also incorporated my devotional prayers, cultural traditions and celebrations that have been part of my life. When I wrote my memoir, I realized how important it was to examine life and wipe away past incidents and to forgive others. HazelEyes inspired me to continue to write inspirational messages for all ages.

My current project is to complete a children’s bilingual collection called Lessons for Living for ages 3-12 years old to promote virtues that often seem to be forgotten. Each story contains a moral, vocabulary page, and questions for discussion with children in classrooms or at home. The first book, Vanilla andChocolate/Vainilla y Chocolate was published in October 2012.

This book was written to help children understand the virtue of tolerance and was developed after a rejection from my Creative Writer professor about my short story called Shaking Hands (has yet to be published). I barely passed the class, but decided to pursue my dream to publish a children’s story. I asked my fifteen-year-old daughter if she would illustrate my story and to my delight, she accepted. Since the story was already written, for my own children, I wrote a version for children in grades K-5. The drawings are Manga style, from the Anime comics published in Japan. I am also reading the story to Middle School students and they love the illustrations and challenge to read the version in Spanish. The children’s book is receiving good feedback on Facebook and the first Five Stars Review on Amazon. 

Inspiring others no matter what rejection or difficulties may happen are my writing plans . I encourage students and writers to read, write, and pursue their dreams. Nothing is impossible with courage and perseverance!      
Maritza Martinez Mejia was born in Bogotá, Colombia to a Catholic family. She lives in Florida with her husband and two teenagers who are her inspiration to write. Maritza is an author, advocate, educator, speaker, Florida Writers Association and Morningside Writers Group member, CCW and CCD volunteer. She received in 2006 the Crystal Apple Award, a prize honored to recognize an outstanding Advisory member. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree and Women's Studies Certificate. She was selected as FAU delegate in 2009 and 2010 of ENLACE (Engaging Latino, African-American, and other Communities for Education). In 2010 Maritza won the FAU Treasure Coast Poetry Contest. She is the author of Hazel Eyes; and Vanilla andChocolate/Vainilla y Chocolate . Visit Author page: 
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