Monday, April 30, 2007

One Step Closer to Another Big (and Shared) Dream

I beat the official deadline by an hour and 58 minutes. At 10:02 PM tonight, I clicked "SEND" to an email I sent to the Board of Judges of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Attached were my scanned official forms, my resume and of course, a copy of my story. But I really should say our story, or even better, his story.

I have always dreamed of submitting an entry to the Palanca Awards (okay, another tick on my checklist!), but my friend has always dreamed of having his own children's storybook. I find myself drawn to helping other people realize their dreams (yes, it's pay-it-forward time), so when I found out last year, I told him to join the upcoming PBBY-Salanga and the Palanca Awards. He felt stuck and didn't know where to begin; I really wanted to help so it was but natural for me to volunteer and write a story for and with him.

The result is a collaborative story: one I wrote with a lot of inspiration and guidance from my friend, with the help of YM messages, Skype calls, email and SMS exchanges. It's the first time I collaborated with someone to write a story and it was a very good experience. I'm happy with how the story turned out. We submitted it to the 2007 PBBY-Salanga Prize last year but unfortunately, it did not make it. We'll see if the stars are aligned to get us the Palanca Award... and sending it out is a big step closer to our dream! It must be the craziest, fastest-and-most-furious time in my life right now (get this: editing a book on leaders, running after a big sales prospect, managing a regional project, preparing for an upcoming four-week trip to Korea, getting ready for my dad's big 60th birthday... whew!), but I'm really happy I took time out to do this. Once again, it's the most perfect time to quote one of my most favorite quotes of all time: Dreams mean work. (It's the last line in Coelho's By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and has been my YM status message for the last few weeks.)

As much as I want to go public, I can't quite disclose the subject, plot and the name of my friend just yet. We'll have to wait until the results are out on September 1st. When we hear the great news then, we'll definitely celebrate with a bang!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Portugal

What a nice surprise in my inbox today from Susana, a good friend of May Ann:

Hi Nikki! I don't know if you remember us: we are the twins from Lisbon, Portugal. We commented in your blog a couple of weeks ago. As promised, here is the picture of the two of us holding your/May Ann's fantastic book. We wish you all the best and hope to see many more books from you!

P.S. Oh, and I forgot to say: in the picture, Patricia is wearing the white shirt and I am wearing the brown one.

I'm so happy the Yellow Paperclip found its way to Portugal, but even happier that it has made twin friends. Here's hoping for more books too!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter's Yellow and Purple Spots

My countdown to Easter was spent at The Karis retreat house, a beautiful sacred space in cool Tagaytay, at my second Jesuit silent Holy Week retreat. I had four days to sloooooooow down, rest, refresh my weary self and relish in God's Silence... and yes, to appreciate His yellow and purple creations!

My spiritual director was Bro. Oliver Dy, S.J., a.k.a. Bro. Ody - truly a blessing and a kindred spirit when it comes to our love for stars and words. It was wonderful to share my personal history with him (which is not complete without the story of The Yellow Paperclip, of course!). He enjoyed reading my story and saw glimpses of Aquinas' medieval theology - now that's a first! But more importantly, Bro. Ody helped me to identify and articulate the ever-elusive yet present thread of Providence working in and out of my life. I was just so happy that the gift of writing stories is, and will be, an important element in my continuously unfolding life story. Storywriting has taken on a completely new meaning for me and I can't contain my excitement for the work and service ahead. I am humbled beyond words. Thank you, Lord!

You're invited to visit my prayer blog for more Easter reflections. May our Every Day be lived as Easter Day!

PS. Look at our photo closely. Doesn't it look like I have Easter bunny ears because of the plant behind me? Hee-hee.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Paperclip, A Teacher and A Doctor

Here's to the third storybook... and more to come! I wrote in my last post. They always say (have you met "they"?) be careful what you wish for. I guess they're right: I just found out via email that the second story I wrote for the Great Men and Women of Asia - Children's Series will also be published! I am thrilled beyond belief.

It is the story of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese missionary doctor based in war-stricken Afghanistan. Dr. Nakamura won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Peace and Understanding in 2003 for "his passionate commitment to ease the pain of war, disease, and calamity among refugees and the mountain poor of the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands" (read the entire citation here). The story's title is A Lucky Doctor and it highlights his fascination with bugs and how he felt "lucky" (yes, that's the word he used!) to be able to see beyond cultural and religious differences. I can't wait to see the illustrations... and the book itself! I was informed that the book launch will be sometime in July or August. What a year this is turning out to be...

Next up: the Palanca Awards! (I can already hear them saying: "Be careful what you wish for, Nikki..." Hee-hee.)