Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fifteen Days to Go

Gulp. October 16 is the deadline for the 2007 PBBY-Salanga Prize. If you want to submit an entry, click here for more details.
Write, Nikki... WRITE!!!

Tree Heaven

This post will have nothing to do with paperclips... but a lot to do with trees. I started a new blog today to share my favorite snapshots. I thought my first post is a good way to remember all the trees in Tree Heaven after the super typhoon Milenyo hit last Thursday. May all of you - including of course, the 61 people who lost their lives - rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Adarna House Launches 2006 Titles

Hope to see you on Saturday! Adarna House launches its 2006 titles and it'll be a good afternoon of books, writers... and halo-halo!

Every year, Adarna House launches a new batch of children’s books to both educate and entertain the Filipino child. This year, 7 new titles will be available at the fun-filled launch on October 7, 2006, Saturday, from 2-5pm, at the Activity Area of Citywalk 2, Eastwood City. Adarna’s authors and illustrators will be present for book signing. There will be storytelling, face painting, arts and crafts, fun games, and freebies for everyone! Admission is absolutely free. For inquiries, call 372-35-48 loc 110 and look for Vanessa. This event is made possible through Animal House, Chocolate Kiss, and National Book Store.

PS. A big thank you to Adarna house for deciding to do a second printing for The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots! Yahooo! They removed the flap (I think it looks better!) and added the space to "purplespots" (whew!).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip and Two Great Men

What does a yellow paperclip have in common with a Pakistani community developer and a Japanese missionary doctor based in Afghanistan?

It is a great honor to write stories about two of Asia's great men - two men the RMAF has recognized with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards. The Foundation has initiated a project to create children's books on the lives of these great men and women of Asia to inspire us with their life stories. Prior to this project, I have never heard about Shoaib Sultan Khan or Tetsu Nakamura; now, after reading their biographies and several write-ups, and spending weeks writing, editing and re-writing 1,000-word stories, I wish I could meet them in person and see what they're like up-close-and-personal.

To a Teacher of Everything and The Lucky Doctor, I do hope my stories give justice to the amazing work you've done in Pakistan and Afghanistan. More importantly, I hope your stories inspire kids to aspire to become great men and women when they grow up.

Thanks to Tita Gang and Tita Emily for inviting me to be part of this incredible project!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Love Story with the Color Purple

PURPLE has been tagged as a "Nikki-color" by those closest to me. Even before I wrote The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots, I have always been into anything and everything purple. Let me tell you my love story with this funky color. It actually has a lot to do with my life... and with love.

In 8th grade, my middle school boyfriend and I had matching purple t-shirts. Nothing fancy, just plain, round-necked purple t-shirts. We were 15, happily on Cloud 9 and purple was "our" color. We came as twins for our Middle School's Twin Day with our matching shirts and khaki shorts. We'd laugh and credit our shared brainwaves whenever we'd wear our shirts on the same day. We were both in purple when we first hugged on the morning after I dropped the bad news that I was leaving for another country. We have several photos in our purple shirts. It's now 13 years later: my purple t-shirt is worn-out (and goes well with my Spongebob pajamas) but it still brings back a flood of happy memories every time I wear it and drift off to dreamclouds.

In high school, I played for the basketball team in my purple Chucks. I wore purple socks to add a little color to our dull white-and-gray school uniform. I remember buying a lot of purple envelopes, sign pens and fancy papers. I must have thrown out my worn-out Chucks (since I can't find them... sob!) but after seeing how well yellow paperclips go with them (check out Ada's purple chucks here), I'm thinking of getting another pair. Or should I get purple Crocs instead? (Update: I got a pair of gold mary jane Crocs but bought a purple star jibbitz!)

In college, I headed a team for the Ateneo Student Trainers (STrains) called The Euphoric Eggplants and purple became our official team color. One team member started by giving everyone purple ballpens. Another sent all his emails in purple font. I gave out purple folders and made funky purple stickers of happy dancing eggplants. We called each other "Eggplant Jon" or "Eggplant Ericka" or "Eggplant Nats" (who came to the last book signing at Powerbooks!). The Euphoric Eggplants is one of my most favorite and memorable teams I worked with.

In DDI, I was esctatic when Pittsburgh HQ decided to have purple, specifically Pantone 260, as a primary corporate color. We had official DDI folders, notebooks and pens in purple. Our corporate brochure and PowerPoint template came in shades of purple. I asked everyone to wear purple for our marketing events. I was purple from head to toe (accompanied by 100+ purple items) for our Christmas Crayola Box Party two years ago. I always knew I was meant to work at DDI, but all that purple was just too good to be true. (Just last year, we shifted into a more formal and corporate look though. Dark blue and copper are now the primary colors, but it's all good because we still use Pantone 260 for all selection and assessment services!)

In other quirky Nikki-ways, purple has completely invaded every part of my life. I've bought a couple more purple items for my wardrobe. I'm often seen with my trusty purple wallet, purple knapsack or purple purse. I've spotted so many interesting purple things: wildflowers (this photo was taken at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches last Easter), kiping at the Pahiyas festival, even firetrucks in downtown Manila. I delight in anything purple; family and friends now find it easy to give me gifts! Google took me to some pretty cool purple sites: the pointlessly but purposefully (make sure you click on the FAQs!), the history and variations of purple on Wikipedia, and most importantly, The Purple Crayon, a site for writing, illustrating and publishing children's books!

In this paperclip adventure, this funky color has really been a bright spot. A good friend suggested that I add the purple spots and the story took on a whole new dimension. I was wearing my purple sweater when Ani called to tell me I won the PBBY-Salanga Grand Prize. I sign books in purple ink. As cheesy as it is, I try to wear purple whenever there's an event or celebration featuring the book (even if it's my underwear! Hee-hee...).

Most people associate purple with royalty and luxury or Lent. I see purple as a significant color of my life: without a question, I am a bright purple spot, inside and out.

I'm also very yellow... but that love story is for another post!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One Blue Paperclip = One Big Fight!

I saw a bright blue paperclip in the parking lot today and the Blue Eagles came to mind. I don't know how paperclips can be linked to basketball... except that I like both. Tee-hee. I've yet to watch a live game this season but I turn into a TV junkie every time it's the UAAP season. I hope I can be there when we become the champions again! PS. Thanks to my cousin for the cool photo.
Go, Ateneo! ONE BIG FIGHT!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Two people have told me that their friends have shed a tear (or two?) after reading my story. I couldn't believe it. Ada, the storyteller I met at the Book Fair, said her officemate got all emotional when she read the last line: Where will you take me? Vanessa of Adarna House just sent me this email:

I sent your book to a close friend who moved to California a year ago and wrote "for the paperclip whose trail i want to follow" on the title page. Umiyak, hahaha. Lagot tayo. PS. She officially loves the book now. Sayang, I wasn't able to have you and May Ann sign it.

Yikes! The next time you read The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots, you may just need a sheet (or a box!) of Kleenex!

Monday, September 11, 2006

The (Not-so-Shy) Yellow Paperclip Shares Stories at the Booktalk

The SCBWI Booktalk last night was a good way to spend a Monday evening. There were just five of us at Figaro Greenbelt but I think I can speak for the others when I say we all enjoyed ourselves. Beaulah and Nikki of SCBWI, plus Patrice, Steve and I, talked non-stop for a couple of hours about the books we brought. My last Booktalk was in February when there were 30+ people to listen to a talk on poetry for children by Lara Saguisag. Apparently, Patrice and Steve were also there... but we never got to meet. I've always liked smaller groups and so this Booktalk was much better as it allowed us to exchange thoughts and ideas more intimately.

Beaulah asked me to bring my Yellow Paperclip and since we're not supposed to talk about the book's plot, I shared the stories-behind-the-story: how Becca helped me develop the story, how the characters are real people in my life, how the themes are so close to my heart, and of course, how Glenn fits in with the whole adventure. It was the first time I shared so much about my story to a group. It was a bit of a "psychological striptease" (as my good friend Gang would often say about writing) - embarrassing yet somewhat liberating. I'm just happy they all listened and seemed to enjoy the inside stories. This story is the story of my life... that is, if you can read between the lines!

Meeting Patrice, who teaches at ISM, was definitely a highlight. She said she'll invite me to share my story with her students! How exciting! I think (and hope) fellow TCKs can relate to the Yellow Paperclip on a different level. I can't wait...

I look forward to Nikki's post about the Booktalk on the SCBWI Philippines blog. If you find yourself free and looking for something different to do on the first Monday evening of the month, join us. New Books + New Friends + Good Coffee + Good Conversation = A Good Evening. Hope to see you on October 9!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Grandparents Day!

Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after the American Labor Day celebration. This year, we celebrate Grandparents Day tomorrow, Sunday, September 10. Click here for more info on this special day.

The Yellow Paperclip celebrates my grandparents in a unique way. Here's a bit of trivia: Grandma Remy is my Lola Meding (her real name was Remedios) and Grandpa Neil is my Lolo Eliong (his real name was Cornelio). Just like in the story, Lola Meding had the most beautiful silver hair and loved sitting in her rocking chair. I don't think he ever collected newspaper clippings but Lolo did die of cancer. Grandparents Day is extra special because it was our last family reunion together with both of them before Lola Meding passed away in November 1998.

I also want to share this artwork of Grandma Remy, painstakingly and lovingly made by Don Gonzales who sent me an email and posted the Yellow Paperclip on his blog. I have not met him - a "husband to Joy, father to Belle and Ivan, creative writer, illustrator, musician, film enthusiast and God-worshipper" - but any friend of the Yellow Paperclip is a friend of mine.

Don, salamat sa iyong pagbigay-buhay kay Lola Meding.

An Invitation to a BOOKTALK on Children's Books

Beaulah and Nikki, thanks for the plug! See you on Monday!

The next SCBWI Booktalk will be on Monday, September 11. You or someone you know might want to come.

* * *

Are you someone who has a keen interest in children's literature? Perhaps you're already a writer or illustrator of children's books? Or maybe someone who's aspiring to become one? If that's the case, come and join us!

* * *

What : Booktalk about children's and young adult books

When : Monday, September 11, 2006 from 6 to 9 pm

Where : Figaro, 3rd level Greenbelt 3, Makati

Bring : Any children's or young adult book to talk about

Example: The most recent National Book Award winner "The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots" by Nikki Dy-Liacco, illustrated by May Ann Licudine. The 1948 Newberry Award-winning "The 21 Balloons" by by William Pene du Bois . "The Three Little Pigs" retold and illustrated by Jean Claverie. The high school edition in English of "Noli Me Tangere" by Dr. Jose Rizal. "The Hunt" by Diane-Elizabeth Napier, one of 26 books in the Rainbow Readers series distributed by the National Literacy Association in the UK. "Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger. Or whatever children's or young adult book you bring that you want to bring and talk about!

For : Writers, illustrators, book designers, publishers, editors, translators, storytellers, counselors, librarians, booksellers, collectors, educators, teachers, parents, and other kinds of creators, advocates and passionate lovers of children's literature

Fee : P170 (includes one drink), SCBWI members P120

Host : Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI)

Everyone is welcome - members, non-members, friends. Interested? More details below.

* * *

How : Depending on the size of the group, we give each person anywhere from one to three minutes to speak. We then have a round-table discussion - about the books that we brought, and whatever other topics these books suggest. You can also do any or all of these - listen to the others, examine the books, ask questions, express an opinion, share an insight or relevant information, talk about your plans or projects. As long as it's related to books for children and young adults. It's usually inspiring, fun, enlightening, sometimes dismaying or even disturbing, always stimulating and thought-provoking.

Booktalk guidelines : We actually have very few rules, and one of them, we decided, is that when you booktalk, please DO NOT give us a summary of the book. Two or three sentences telling us what the story is about is fine. The rest of your booktalk should tell us what else you considered worth noting about the book - the writer's writing style, the writer's other books maybe, the writer's life and careeer, the the price of the book (not a small thing!), the state of the book (worn and tattered and obviously well used, perhaps), the quality or type of illustrations, the book design, the life and career of the illustrator, the book's production quality, the beautiful (or pitiful) paper for the inside pages, a profile of the book's publisher, the reason why you chose to bring this particular book, what is it about this book that makes you feel inspired, enlightened, happy, comforted, dismayed, disturbed, sad, calm, agitated, etc. Is it a book you read and liked in childhood? Is it a book you continue to read and like in adulthood? Is it a book you would love other children to read? Is it a book you wish you wrote? Or illustrated? Is it a book you think should be given to all children? Or a book you think should be given carefully and selectively? Etc., etc. (Now you know why some of us have to be told we talked beyond the time limit!)

So come and join us! And please, tell us if you're coming.

Contact : Nikki at 0917-667-1267, or Beaulah at 0917-787-4956,

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Biggest Housewarming Party, Ever... and The Most Romantic Story Ever Told

While I'm really thrilled to get the Award (and not a house!) for my Yellow Paperclip, I think Kyle beat me with his One Red Paperclip: he not only has a house... but he now has a fiancee! Thanks to Allan's amazing blog, I got the latest scoop on the magical events in Kipling over the housewarming party weekend. Read on and see if you don't get a little lump in your throat.

It was almost biblical: thousands of pilgrims from all over arrived, drawn by the beacon of OneRedPaperclip, bearing house-warming gifts and wishes and all sporting huge smiles irked up by basking in the famous location.

The town of Kipling, SK (usually pop. 1,142) swelled, erected stages, swarmed with international media, brought in extra Royal Canadian Mounted Police and ramped up to for the biggest event this town (and I’d say the province) would ever see.

The ambiance was indescribable. Hugging strangers was normal. Everyone bubbled over with joy at the concerts, fireworks, Hollywood movie castings, balloon rides, Kyle’s open house – in brief, everything. Most of us camped in tents, and thus a huge community formed. Kum-bye-ah, man.

Finally, on the Sunday, the emotion hit a fevered pitch, when the most unbelievable, poignant series of events unfolded.

A big ceremony took place where all the people who had traded with Kyle (aside from three who couldn’t make it, such as Alice Cooper) stood on stage to be recognised and have their stories re-told.

Next Kyle was made Mayor of Kipling for one day, receiving a sachet and a gavel. Among cries from his buddies “Your honour, get me a pardon from the drunk tank!” his honour Kyle was urged to speak. But the biggest surprise, ever, lay in lurk.

Kyle did an impassioned speech, but near the end, he took the original red paperclip he had started it all off with, bent it into a hoop shape, dropped to one knee, and offered it to his long-time girlfriend Dom.

The crowd gasped, cameras snapped in a frenzy, and there was not a dry eye to be seen. I was sitting with Kyle and Dom’s families, and soon found myself in a circle of hugs and tears and utter, genuinely bewildered surprise.

Now that's an amazing (and uber-romantic) adventure for one red paperclip. Don't get me wrong: winning the Award was incredible and it truly is a bright purple spot in my life. But finding Mr. Right (complete with a daggy yet sweet paperclip engagement ring) would be perfect... and the brightest and most purple spot, EVER.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Books, Friends and Paperclips

I spent the afternoon at the Book Fair today. Let the photos tell you the story of my happy day which started when I made new friends: a little girl who played with imaginary jackstones and Ada the Storyteller.

Ada made her own yellow paperclips with bright purple spots using purple puff paint...

...and we happily played with them...

...and admired them on Ada's cool purple Chucks!

I got to hang out with my colleague Steph at the colorful Adarna House booth...

...while my dad had lunch and took this photo.

I bought five books (with at least a 20% discount on each!): 100 Questions Filipino Kids Ask by Adarna House, Wild About Books written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown, You're Only Old Once! by Dr. Seuss, The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle, and How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb.

I guess one afternoon wasn't enough; we dropped by Books For Less in Alabang before going home and I picked up a cool Sesame Street book All About Me. Here's one of my favorite pictures...

Here's to more new books, friends and paperclips!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Flowers and A Song

What a way to end a (fiscal) year! We had a simple but memorable celebration today, starting with a thanksgiving mass (with a Jesuit jazz player... how cool is that?!), a feast of a merienda, and a slideshow of the past year's highlights. I got beautiful yellow-and-purple flowers from my DDI family and heard Noel Cabangon sing and play Coldplay's Yellow, one of my most favorite songs.

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do
Yeah, they were all yellow.

I came along,
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called "Yellow."

I'll say it once again: I am one happy kid. Here's to yet another amazing year ahead!