By: Noah Davis
Originally published on: January 25, 2024
UCF alumna Doris Vega Baez ’09, who graduated with a degree in Business Administration, is now a self-published author. Her book, “Anani and the Brave Hurricane Adventure / Anani y la valiente aventura del huracán” is a bilingual children’s story that follows the adventures of a young girl in Puerto Rico whose determination inspires her community after a devastating hurricane.
“My grandfather used to always tell me stories about my ancestors, where we came from,” said Baez, who lived in Puerto Rico for two years growing up before moving to Central Florida. who grew up in Puerto Rico before moving to Central Florida at five-years old. “In Puerto Rico, most of the people who live there, their ancestors are from Spain, Africa and the indigenous people – the Taíno that lived on the island.”
Taíno refers to the indigenous native peoples of the Caribbean who inhabited places such as Puerto Rico. Their culture has been passed down for generations and is kept alive by their descendants, which was Baez’s inspiration behind her book. Aside from living in Puerto Rico for two years, Baez and her family lived at her grandparents’ house in Carolina, Puerto Rico each summer until high school. She not only wanted to become a published author but to set a good example for her daughter to never give up.
Baez’s writing journey has not been an easy one as she balances her job as the Lead Author Support Representative at Salem Author Services, writing and being a mom.
“I wake up at 4 a.m., exercise, then set aside an hour to work on my book,” she said. “Now it’s published, so I do the same thing, except now I’m marketing it.”
The dual language format of the book was another challenge. It is written so that one paragraph is in English then repeated in Spanish. Although she can speak Spanish, Baez is not fully fluent, so she received translation assistance from family members during the writing process.
Baez, who is pursuing a career in digital marketing, views the writing process as part of her path as it utilizes her creativity and ability to overcome challenges. By personally marketing her book, she is gaining valuable skills that will help with the transition to the digital marketing field. All the challenges of the writing process are worth it when she sees someone reading her book.
“When I see other people read the book and I see pictures of their children holding the book,” she said, “that is the most touching, most wonderful experience ever.”
While she pursues her full-time career, Baez is planning to turn her book into a series with each new installment following a different child and adventure. The second installment in the series is already in the works.
Baez said the most important part of becoming an author is maintaining a focus on your target audience through the writing process.
“Make sure you know your book is not meant for everyone. It’s an ongoing effort that requires determination, creativity and endurance,” she said. “You cannot afford to pause your marketing endeavors. Embrace the responsibility that, as an author, you are the most powerful advocate for your book. Be prepared to market yourself, step outside your comfort zone and push your boundaries. It’s a brave endeavor, but it’s vital for the success of your book. Remember that the journey might be challenging, but the rewards of connecting with your audience and sharing your story are immensely fulfilling.”
Baez’s book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also find her on TikTok and Instagram @tainoadventurebooks.