I was born in Boston, MA before moving to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia where I attended high school. I earned my B.S. from Christopher Newport University and my M.S. Ed from Old Dominion University. Spent a good portion of my younger years trying to break into the record industry, but after starting a family I realized that I had to reevaluate my life choices.
Currently, I am a high school Guidance Counselor and mentor to a lot of young people. I am also a husband and father of two beautiful girls which my series of books (The Adventures of Tink & Fishes) will be inspired by. The books will have a Hip Hop style of rhyme and very unique illustrations to match which should make them easy and fun to read for all ages.
When I am not writing or trying to lead young people down the right path I enjoy listening to good music, reading, playing golf with my girls, chess, lifting weights, and yoga.
If you’re interested in knowing a bit more feel free to email or “tweet” me @renguity.
Essentially the book is basically a compilation of things that I tell my girls on a regular basis. I have two daughters who are now 12 and 8. I found myself saying certain things over and over like any other parent out there and even started to take those messages to my kids at the school where I worked. So I thought to myself “Why not just write them down?”
Hello Rene! How are you doing today? Welcome to Inside The Books. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a children’s book author?
Hello there! I’m doing well today? How are you? Thank you for reaching out and offering me an opportunity to discuss my book. I really appreciate the interest and support.
Well, my parents are from Honduras, CA and my sister and I are products of two people overcoming many odds to give us a better opportunity. I was born and raised in Boston, MA and I am a TRUE BOSTONIAN! I love my city! Growing up I was very blessed to have great parents, wonderful friends and a great sense of community. We took care of each other and years later our community has gone from friends to family.
Growing up I was super involved in the Hip Hop culture. I started with Breakdancing and by the 9th grade I devoted my energy to rhyming and becoming an Emcee. Throughout high school and college I spent a lot of time just trying to get signed and I was close until some life altering events occurred and I had to redirect my steps, but the love for the culture never dies. It becomes part of you and ultimately who you are. I consider myself a Hip Hop Guidance Counselor! 🙂
Honestly, with a love for rhyming writing a book wasn’t that far of a reach. Working full time in a field where your students become your kids (if you care) and with my own performing and traveling wasn’t much of an option so writing a book served a couple of purposes for me. 1. It gave me an opportunity to still rhyme and write which is what I love to do. 2. It was a message of fatherhood that I noticed was so lacking in our society. 3. It was something that was dedicated and inspired by my girls so it would be something they would hopefully appreciate forever. 4. Both of my girls play golf which culturally is something we do not play but they showed an interest and a gift very early so we were hoping that the book could help fund their golfing experience.
You might not know that my daughter was one of my inspirations to start my publishing company, Worlds To Discover. Was it always your dream to become a published author or was it something that slowly evolved as your girls were growing up?
No my dream was never to become an author. My original dream was to be on stage and be Boston’s KRS-ONE. LOL It’s funny how life changes and you adapt to whatever is going on. I knew when my first daughter was born that traveling and being a part time dad was not going to work for me so I really backed up from that. I mentioned some major events playing a part in my decision. My partner in rhyme Remon Jourdan (who also wrote a children’s book) was in a car accident that left him unable to walk. The year after his accident my oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. So the book was definitely an evolution of all of those events and in a way therapeutic for me. Pick Up The Pace was me getting back into the swing of things after being down for a long time.
I’ve never published a picture book, but I can imagine writing a picture book has it challenges. What aspect did you find to be a challenge?
Great question! The writing was easy and I have a few books waiting in the wing but the process is a little crazy. First, I noticed that most books that show love or endearment to their children were by women and not many that I could find were from fathers of color. Soooo I’m thinking “something new” but that was not the case. In order for any major publisher to even look at your work you need a literary agent to present it. So I wrote to hundreds of agents and none were interested in picking up the book and moving forward with it. I think if I had written this book before ebooks became the norm that I would have had a better response. So that was very frustrating. I would go into stores and look at books that I KNOW mine could have stood by and you start to wonder if there is a reason books by men of color are not in Barnes and Noble. After 100 “no’s” you have to decide what to do so I decided to self publish. Even in that it’s expensive so I did what I could to promote the book and sold over 1000 copies the summer I released it. I was hoping that would show companies it had merit but the no’s didn’t change to yesses.
On your website Pick up the Pace, you mention that you work as a high school guidance counselor and mentor a lot of young people. Does that experience play a role in your stories?
Absolutely! I really didn’t set out to change the world or save anyone but my love for my own kids and coming from familiar territory as my students I was their go to person. Those kids literally became my kids. My office was always crowded and I spent a lot of weekends with my students taking them to the movies, bowling, or just over to watch sports. After seeing how many of my kids didn’t have fathers or envied mine I felt it necessary to send the message of love to everyone and the book was a way to do that.
As a published children’s book author myself I have always found it very interesting to have readers of my books come up to share with me their thoughts about my characters. What is the most memorable experience you have had with readers of your book?
I think the consistent theme that I am very proud of is when people say to me “This should be in Barnes and Noble and not just in the children’s section!” That tells me that it was a positive endeavor even if I didn’t make a million dollars or sat on Oprah’s sofa. I know the people that read it were blessed because God used me as a messenger. You can’t feel bad about that.
I love the vibrant colors of your cover illustration. How involved were you with the illustrations of your book?
VERY! My best friend and another good friend of mine did the illustrations. Before families and real life we would all sit around watching them draw pictures of the crew. They would draw me with a microphone and the rest of the gang doing different things and we all used to tell them they needed to really do something with their talent but life happens I suppose and they never did. So when I told them I was going to start a series of books and no one knew my family like they did and would they be interested. They jumped at the chance to finally put their gifts to work and those illustrations really make the book shine in my opinion. Not because they are so bright and vibrant but because those guys captured the life of my family into fun pictures. There were some bumps in the road working with your friends and a project that you feel passionate about. Sometimes our clocks weren’t in sync and that was frustrating but I wouldn’t want anyone else illustrating my books so you just have to love your folks I guess. 🙂
Can you give us a hint about what your next book will be about?
I’ll give you more than a hint. I will give you the title of the next book. It will be called “Today” which is already written and it speaks about the blessings we have EVERYDAY if we just take the time to notice.
I know I have a lot of goals for my publishing company. Some I talk about and others I keep close. What are your goals for your publishing career that you would like to share?
Writing is my peace so I have a few projects that I would like to attack in the near future. With my girls establishing themselves as pretty good little golfers my goals are always to put them in a position to follow their path and if the books get them there then I’ll be a happy man. They want to play on LPGA one day so their goals are now my goals and purpose for anything that I do going forward. I am in the process of writing a book about our road to the LPGA and I really want to sit down and put all of my notes in order because that book will not only address fatherhood but the social issues involved in the game of golf.
Do you have any events coming up that you would like to share?
Aside from my girl’s tournaments I don’t have anything lined up. Every now and then I am asked to speak at an event for fathers or young men so I’m always open to those when they are presented.
Which social sites are you on?
Not many. I still have a Twitter account which I originally set up to promote the book and although I connected with a lot of good people I stopped using it. I do monitor my girls Twitter @guitygirlsgolf and Facebook pages. Their website is www.guitygirlsgolf.com. So needless to say my girls are my priority. Thanks again for the opportunity to share! Blessings!