Her favorite book right now (difficult to pick just one): Three Times Lucky series by Sheila Turnage
Her favorite hobby: Dancing! Swing, Salsa, Country Line, Merengue, Hip Hop, etc. even Clogging! (Although she isn't very good at it, it's still fun.) Anything that has dancing in it.
Her second favorite hobby: Reading
Her favorite ice cream (even if it gives her tummy aches): Three Twins Sea Salt Caramel and Häagen Dazs Dulce de Leche, but she will tolerate Chocolate ice cream if she can’t find her favorites.
Words she lives by: Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
Shirley was born in Brooklyn, New York to a Dominican mother and a Puerto Rican father. She spoke 4-year-old English and 4-year-old Spanish when her parents decided to move the family to the mountains of Puerto Rico. She soon forgot her 4-year-old English after that move.
The eldest of seven children, Shirley spent her summer days running around with her siblings and cousins, searching for wild strawberries, and eating “puma rosas” (rose apples), “guineos” (bananas), “chinas” (oranges), and ripe sweet coffee beans off her grandparent's property.
Her favorite subjects in school were Spanish Language Arts and English. She loved to write Thank You notes and she especially loved to write in her journal. In fact, Shirley recently discovered a homemade journal she kept when she was 14 years old!
In 7th grade she fell in love with reading. The book was titled Marianela by Benito Perez Galdos. Shortly after, she decided to write a story. It was a terrible story! She never wanted to try again.
Two days after her 18th birthday, Shirley left the mountains of Puerto Rico for Staten Island, New York and eventually made her way to Northern California, with stops in Utah, where she lived with a family to improve her English and save for college, and Idaho, where she attended college.
Twenty years later, Shirley lives in California with her amazing husband and their 4 rambunctious children, who now spend their summers running around their grandparent’s property, chasing after their dog.
Shirley has a habit of binge reading. Her family cringes—a new book equals a dirty house and late dinners. Thankfully, the children have chores, and she’s a fast reader.
Shirley has always loved stories and especially loves to read them aloud to her children. She makes them come alive by adding accents and dramatic flair.
When her youngest son was still a baby and up at all hours of the night, Shirley had a lot of time to think as she rocked him to sleep. She remembered a game she'd play with her siblings as a child. They would open their Atlas (a big book of maps). In the very middle of the book was a map of the world. Shirley would secretly choose a country in her head, and her siblings would have to guess the country. With 'hot' and 'cold' as their guide, they spent hours choosing and guessing, and having fun. An idea was born. She would write a story about this game. She would try to write one more time. She did, and she’s been writing ever since.
A new story idea also provokes cringing in her family. It may look like she’s just sitting there, staring into space. But Shirley is, most likely, in some other world watching her characters interact. She loves to read and write humorous picture books, adventure chapter books and middle-grade novels.
Shirley is a Spanish and Creative Writing Instructor, a Spanish Interpreter for her local school district, a Story Time presenter for her local library, a member of the Edgar's Lane Critique Group, an active member of the SCBWI California North/Central region, and an SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference volunteer.