It was an overwhelming three days - overwhelming in a good way though! There are so many thoughts and ideas swimming in my head but for now, here are some photos and highlights:
Day 1: It was really awesome reconnecting with Isabel "Pepper" Roxas, my teacher for a Writing and Illustrating for Kids elective in Ateneo more than 10 years ago. I told her how she and that class really helped inspire me to get into this wonderful world of children's books. Seeing her now as a successful illustrator and artist based in Brooklyn continues to be an inspiration. I also got to meet the super-animated and friendly Candy Gourlay, award-winning Filipina writer based in London. I really enjoyed the stories she shared on her journey to be a best-selling author of Tall Story - and I can't wait to read her book!
|With Award-Winning Author Candy Gourlay|
The Amazing Noel Cabangon
With Festival Manager Kenneth
Awesome Skyline from The National Library's 16th Floor Pod
Day 2: Thanks to Pepper and Franny Ong of Tahanan Books, I got to meet Leonard Marcus, our keynote speaker, and THE children's book historian, critic and author who flew in from New York City just for the AFCC. I sat across him as we hung out by the Singapore River for drinks and we had a nice chat about Pittsburgh. So yes, I rediscovered my inner fangirl, and yes, I shared a copy of my book with him. [Sheepish smile.] I'm thrilled just thinking that The Yellow Paperclip is somewhere in NYC with him... though probably buried under a mountain of other books. :-)
|With Teacher Pepper | With Leonard Marcus |
Noel performing in The Arts House
Hanging out with Franny and Pepper
Day 3: I decided last-minute to sign up for a Masterclass on Editing Children's Books: Turning Your Manuscript into a Bestseller with Alvina Ling of Little, Brown and Sarah Odedina of Hot Key Books. And I'm so glad I did! They gave a lot of great practical advice and tips, and having several short writing exercises really pushed me beyond my comfortable world of writing copy for work. Of course, the approval-dependent writer in me (in all of us?) was thrilled to hear their positive comments on my pieces. Now comes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: I have three months to prepare and send a manuscript to them. Oh, by the way... Sarah just happened to publish all of Harry Potter and she's on a first-name basis with "Jo" Rowling and Neil Gaiman. Wow! Eeeep! [Gushes.]
Yes, it was overwhelming but in an awesome way. Though it has only been a few years since my last project, I had felt so displaced from the world of children's books. Being at the Conference felt like some sort of homecoming: reassuring in how familiar it was, but scary-exciting in the new and not knowing what to expect next.
My little journal from the three days has all these random notes from the different talks I went to and I'll share some of them in a separate post. But for now, I'll leave you with one of my favorites (that struck right at the heart of this perfectionist!) from Australian illustrator James Foley: