Friday, June 15, 2012

Two Weeks Late But Still Overwhelmed

I'm so glad I made it back for the 2-day Asian Writers' and Illustrators' Conference of the Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC). And yes, this post is two weeks late. No excuses but that crazy back-to-work period.

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
Your words or pictures don't have to be perfect but they should be truthful and playful.

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