The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s) LA Conference was held early July, and I had no idea what I was getting into, in the best way possible. When I started on the path into the kidlit world, there was a list of things I had to do to get the best start. One of the most important was joining SCBWI to immerse myself in the children’s book world. Luckily, I dipped my toe in this world when I attended the regional meet-up earlier this year because otherwise I would’ve been completely overwhelmed by the event that was the huge L.A. conference.
The weekend was packed with inspirational keynote speakers, informative break-out talks by authors, agents and editors in the industry, and brunch with children’s writer and legend Judy Blume! The days were filled with so much inspiration, I hardly knew what to do with myself. I was constantly torn between attending one talk over the other at the same time, both sounding equally intriguing. But I think the best part of all was meeting all the wonderful people I had connected with online through my children’s book writing class. I spent my days learning from my instructor and "fairy godmother", Dr. Mira Reisberg, and eagerly sitting in on talks and sharing ideas with my book pals Emily, Jodi and Bryan. It was so surreal to meet my book friends in person after sharing my stories and ideas with them for months online. I found my tribe!
The Silver Linings social on Saturday night was really something to experience, with writers and artists dancing, mingling enjoying the appetizers and snacks galore. The drinks flowed and the ice-cream sundaes called my name. I even spotted my kidlit hero, author and illustrator Jon Klassen (but did not give in to my fan impulses this time- next time Jon Klassen, next time). This was kidlit heaven!
Of all the speakers who shared their wisdom and experiences with us (and all of them were so amazing), there were two in particular that really struck a chord with me. Opening keynote speaker Vanessa Brantley Newton and break-out session speaker Leuyen Pham. Newton spoke with an emotion that connected with the audience. Her story of perseverance and unrelenting will was so touching and inspiring to hear. And I hope her story about the goat falling into the well and the words of, “Shake it off and pack it under” will resonate with me when I’m struggling to push through on my creative journey.
Pham is a magical unicorn all her own. She’s illustrated an incredible number of books, and hearing her process absolutely blew my mind. How does she illustrate more than one book at a time and maintain her sanity while raising her young children? This woman is an illustrating machine! Regardless, it was reassuring to hear her speak about her experiences of illustrating, searching for inspiration, and realizing that even though she’s extremely talented, she’s also very, very hard-working. I am a big fan, Leuyen!
When I first told my husband I would be attending the SCBWI conference, he was so supportive, and in Renaldo fashion, could probably see how taken I would be, even more so than I did at the time. I’ve caught the kidlit bug and it’s not letting me go! I came home from each full day at the conference, lit up with energy and newly inspired, though exhausted. I hope I remember this feeling. It was incredible to live in a kidlit bubble for one fulfilling weekend. And even though this event has come and gone, I’ll return to the memories again and again to keep me going on this kidlit journey. There is always next year, and perhaps the Winter Conference in New York to look forward to! My creative cup is now full.
Happy Summer, everyone! I would've never guessed when I wrote my last blog post that even more exciting opportunities would arise. I am now officially a blogger, a Blogateer to be exact! Amazing things happen when you follow your bliss, and it all started with one picture book class with The Children's Book Academy. I would not be here without the generous spirit that is Dr. Mira Reisburg. She surprised me with the incredible opportunity of writing for her website's blog, what an honor!
Writing and following my passion for it really has opened so many doors in just a few short months. And now it looks like all those extra hours I'm putting in getting lost in the children's section of the library and book stores is sparking inspiration two-fold: exposing me to the incredibly fun world of children's literature and giving me the resources to write on the fourth Wednesday of every month for the Blogateers. I think I might already have all the books I want to review for the rest of the year, and it's only June!
It's an understatement to say there are books to fill multiple lifetimes spent in the aisles of the children's books section. My first blog post was on Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos (who I even connected with on Twitter, thanks to Mira of course... wow!) . There is just an abundance, but these are my favorites for June:
The Storm Whale in Winter
by: Benji Davies
Big Wolf and Little Wolf: The Little Leaf that Wouldn't Fall
by: Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by: F. Isabel Compoy, Theresa Howell, Illustrated by: Rafael Lopez
Nana in the City
by: Lauren Castillo
Monster and Son
by: David LaRochelle, Illustrated by: Joey Chou
I feel so blessed to be learning and exploring on this journey. And the summer has only just begun! Next adventure: my first SCBWI summer conference in July!
Wow, it's been a whirlwind of a Spring! And what a great few months for writing inspiration! After I completed The Children's Book Academy picture book writing class, I dove right in and applied for their Andrea Pinkney Scholarship for the Middle Grade Mastery class. This scholarship aimed to give opportunities for diverse authors to get their stories out there, and guess what? I won a half-scholarship to the Middle Grade writing class!! Woooo! What a great start to a writing class that would change my writing journey. I went through 4 weeks of learning how to write intriguing characters and a story that would grab the reader from the first page. It's been an incredible journey learning from Dr. Mira Reisberg and Hillary Homzie, published middle grade author of several books including The Queen of Likes.
April was the month for amazing book events and author signings. I stumbled upon Jon Klassen's author appearance at my local gift shop in Atwater Village. It was such a wonder to watch him read to a group of rambunctious toddlers and give a little illustration demo. He even graciously signed my favorite picture book of his, and gave me advice to publishing picture books.
I finally attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of books, where I was enthralled by the Middle Grade book talk featuring authors Danielle Davis, Steven B. Frank, Erin Estrada Kelly, and A.S. King. What an incredible panel of inspiring authors! I bought three of the middle grade novels, collected more author autographs, and snuck in a few insider questions when meeting the authors.
And to round out my collection of author autographs for the season, I stopped by Leanna Lin's Wonderlands' author event with Genevieve Santos!! What a sweet and down to earth soul. I talked illustration and writing with her, got a fun sketch and author signature in her newly published chapter book and bought a wonderful, custom drawing of my husband and I for our upcoming Paper wedding anniversary!
Whew! I've really hit the ground running with this writing thing, and I can't wait to see what wonderful, and inspiring experiences summer will bring!
I knew 2017 would be THE year for creativity. To be honest, there hasn't been a year where there hasn't been creativity or some kind of art in my life. Whether I'm sketching my thoughts on a random piece of paper, sharing some late-night doodles on Instagram, or participating in the local art show, there's is no way I could go a whole year without creating something. But this would be THE year for it- I could feel it, and I just had to jump at looking for a way to make this something happen.
I had a children's story jumbling around in my head for more time that I'd like to admit, but never got it past several preliminary sketches. But late last year, I decided 2017 would be the year that I would make my character come to life. I really wanted to dive in and write the story out well, so after a long and windy journey down the rabbit hole of the internet, I found the Children's Book Academy online. (www.childrensbookacademy.com) There were so many courses offered, and the instructor and creator, Dr. Mira Reisberg, was not only the most qualified and knowledgeable person to take my first leap into children's book writing (she's had many years of experience in children's literature and worked in pretty much all aspects of the field possible), but her photo also made her seem like a very warm, and likable person. I decided to take a chance and sign up for The Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books, which started in a few short weeks!
I could not be happier with my decision. It was a six week class, which flew by so fast, and I missed being a part of it as soon as it was over. There was so much material to learn about the children's literature world and how to write picture books, it really was the best way to really dive in to what I wanted to achieve. Mira Reisberg was so kind and generous with her time, and really cared about her students and what we were learning in her class. She, along with Kelly Delaney (an editor at Random House), and Bryan Patrick Avery (who was also a magician on the side!), really made the class enjoyable and engaging. One of the best things I've taken away from this class is the online community of children's book authors and illustrators who also took the course, and the wonderful connections I've made (including a book pen pal in San Francisco who I've continued to share book ideas with!) . In addition, the big bonus of the course is the Golden Ticket- an opportunity to submit directly to an agent or editor at a publishing house, and bypass the slush pile. So exciting!!
I'm so thrilled to say that this class has sparked my passion towards writing for children. There's not a day that goes by without a new idea swirling around for a possible picture book or character illustration. I have learned so much in the short six weeks, and cannot wait to continue to learn more about the kidlit world and work towards getting my stories published. This class has not only been a great educational resource, but also a very inspiring beginning for my passion of writing and illustrating for children.
What an exciting, whirlwind of a time! Renaldo and I were engaged November 2015, and we got married in May 2016 (hence the hiatus.. or detour of creative efforts). This was the perfect opportunity to really dive in and make the wedding ceremony our own. Save-the-dates, wedding invitations, bouquets, boutonieres and ceremony decorations were all DIY. I recruited my wonderful bridesmaids and incredible mom and aunt to help me with paper flower decorations for the ceremony. It was the most fun and amazing day to get married to my love, and celebrate with all our closest friends and family. (Photos taken by our very talented and sweet wedding photographer, Adriane White)
I may look Japanese, but I've got deep cultural roots in Peru. This summer, my husband (then fiancé) and I traveled to Peru, for him to meet my family, explore the wonders of Cusco and Macchu Picchu, eat delicious food and experience life in a place so different from our own, yet so close to home.
Art was all around us (the foods we ate, the amazing structures in nature, paintings, murals, ceramics), and for me, there is never a vacation away from art. I sketched here and there, was in awe of all the beauty of the natural surroundings of Cusco and was drawn to the colorful photography at the Peruvian art museum, MATE. Even my cousin is an artist in his own right. He's a musician and plays a Peruvian percussion instrument called the Cajon. He gave me a mini cajon to decorate and it became a part of his artist collection of Cajonearte.
Leanna Lin's Wonderland is a super fun gift shop in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. The owner, Leanna Lin, always has the cutest merchandise on display, and she's a big supporter of local artists. I was lucky enough to contribute a couple of small drawings and some buttons for an art fundraiser to support the North Central Animal Shelter in Los Angeles. Both of my pieces sold, and all the proceeds went to support our local, furry friends.
Here you'll find...
a little about me, thoughts on my writing journey, hopefully a spark of inspiration. Enjoy!