Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Common Mistakes of Newbie Children's Book Authors


Mr. Alvin Gale Tan, a participant in the recently concluded 4th Lampara Books Likha-Pambata Writing and Illustrating Workshop sent me a question through Messenger. The workshop was conducted during the 37th MIBF. Most often, the time spent for question and answer is not enough. With email and social media, conversations and further comments or feedback can be entertained. Thus, the learning continues.


And so, he asked:

What are the 3 most common mistakes of newbie children's book authors?

My answer:

Children's Literature is the literature of hope. Remember what children and childhood stand for when you write stories for children. The ending is not always a happily ever after, but children's stories always give the reader a sense of a good feeling despite suffering; an acceptance of truths and values we hold dear in a world in chaos; that light can shine in the midst of darkness.

It will help the aspiring writers of children's books to look at the 10 Values of Children's Literature by Ruth Kearney Carlson (1969). The link is from the ERIC database where the PDF can be downloaded for free. As an addition, here are my recommended books to read for the newbie writer of children's stories.





There are many more good books to read and learn from. Search the blog for past reviews and the list of winners in the National Children's Book Awards. 

Mistakes can't be helped, especially when we are starting off with projects or a new endeavor. Failures are part of the learning process. If we take on a positive attitude and an open mind, we will arrive at the desired destination.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Library Scavenger Hunt 2016

It is already a tradition in The Beacon Academy for grade nine students to play the Scavenger Hunt. I started this out with our Comparative Religions (CRe) teacher three years ago. She saw the need to introduce students to serious research in a fun and engaging manner. When she broached the idea to me, I said YES! This is a teacher-librarian collaboration opportunity. I learn from her. She learns from me. Our students learn too. We all learn together.

So, this year, a month and half after the academic year opened, CRe teacher and I scheduled the Scavenger Hunt. My staff helped prepare the handouts, the puzzles and the technology needed for the activity. In previous years, the main objective of the game was to finish the hunt and the puzzle. This year, I emphasized the importance of finishing a product as well as going through a process. These two ideas, product and process, are valuable in academic research and scholarly endeavors. Hmm... thinking about it, these are valuable life lessons.

Completing a product or a task is one thing. Knowing how it was completed and accomplished is another. The former is concerned with competence. The later is about smarts. Both require stamina, perseverance and drive. All these learning skills happen in the classroom and outside its four walls. The library, with programs and services such as this, becomes an extension of the classroom. Bless the CRe teacher who recognizes this role of the library.

 How did the students take on the Scavenger Hunt? They had fun. They used their skills. They panicked. They finished the task and they felt good about themselves.



We wrapped up the game by asking them things they learned and discovered about research, the library and the challenges of working in a group. I felt confident too, teaching along side our CRe teacher. It unburdens me in so many ways. Now how do we assess the students' learning? The skills covered in the Scavenger Hunt appear in their tasks and project in their CRe lessons. I await feedback from my teaching partner, the CRe teacher.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Young Adult Library Services: College Talks at the Library

College talks kicked off a few weeks ago in campus.

Our college guidance counselor's favorite venue for college talks is the library. I take this opportunity to collaborate with her by displaying books about college readiness and writing college essays and letters of applications. It helps that our college counselor loves books and reads a lot too! She does not only see the library as a physical space to be used for events.

This simple plan to encourage students to read was hatched a year ago. We both saw the relevance of reading books and how this can greatly help in writing essays. The other aspect of writing like outlining, organization, use of language is being handled by the Language Arts teachers. So, we support each other so that our students are not lost out to sea. This is how we do things in the Beacon Academy.

By putting on display books that matter to our high school students, the library's role as a reosurce center is up on the plate. This way, students can see and preview books to support them on the task of choosing colleges and applying for one. More so, writing that essay! I also whipped up a list of recommended books on the said topic. Apparently, two books were picked out from the display shelf! It works!

Recommended list of books on College Application and Essay Writing

A follow through on this library service would be to lead students and the guidance counselor to World Book Online's Life Skills web portal where young adults can access information on personal financial management, looking for a dorm or boarding house, planning for life after high school, preparing for interviews and considering a gap year. Again, timing is of the essence because using resources need to be strategically planned.


Abangan!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Benefits of Book Signing and Meet & Greet the Author Events

With Toni and Zak at the 37th MIBF
I do not have a new book this year. Life happened.

But, my publisher, Lampara Books allotted a time for me to sign books at their booth during the 37th Manila International Book Fair in SMX Convention Center. I like book signings because, I meet my readers. I meet old friends and make new ones.

Last Saturday, I met Jenn Avetria who teaches in Sariaya National High School. We are friends on Facebook. One day, she sent me a private message asking about setting up a small reading center and library. I sent her links to blog articles I have written about her query. Imagine my joy when we met in person at the 37th MIBF! Jenn also attended the Likha-Pambata Writing and Illustrating Workshop. While she admits losing Php 500.00, she gained so much from the experience.

Another surprise that made me giddy as a child was meeting Zak Yuson up close and personal. Zak is the editor of Rappler's Move.PH. He bought a copy of Big Sister for his niece. I couldn't help but drop his mom's name in our conversation. His mom is one of the nicest people I know. But, more than that, I also got the chance to congratulate him on the success of Move.PH as a participatory platform for citizens to engage in news about current events, social development, government and society. From our brief meeting, I learned about X Rappler.

This is Rappler's new online platform for netizens to write stories. I still have to find out what it is and what it actually does that benefits people and their communities. But, on face value, I think X Rappler is an avenue for storytelling.

And of course, while signing books, I get a good gauge on how I can help my publisher market my books. More on marketing matters for writers in future post!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rainbows and Paper Bags: Take Aways from the Likha-Pambata Workshop 2016

Our tarp at the workshop venue
Three wonderful things happened during the 4th Likha-Pambata Writing and Illustrating Workshop: 1) there were participants who were able to write a story map/outline; 2) there were participants who developed characters by drawing on paper bags; 3) there were participants who were able to do both by using the character from their story outline. Needless to say, the workshop that I ran with Ruben "Totet" de Jesus had been fun and deeply engaging. I felt inspired myself. I now resolve to finish all book projects I have with my publisher.

YAY! (fingers crossed)

How we went about the activities

The workshop program was in two parts. Being the author who facilitated the writing component of the workshop, I had an input session on my writing life, my writing process and where I get stories to write. Afterwards, participants were given story prompts to come up with story maps and outlines. I used the photo of a rainbow to establish context and focused on questions that lead to character development. In fifteen minutes, participants were able to write! This is only a pre-writing exercise but the output for the day is something they can file in a writing portfolio. This way, ideas and story development techniques are documented and can be tracked down.

Raquel V. Endoso's character is a fearful lion.
When Totet took on the second part of the workshop, the participants couldn't help but be amazed at the spot drawing demonstration. Basic shapes, lines and curves, geometric shapes and points can be used to create a character with emotions and personality. His input in our collaborative work was, I think, is the more interesting topic in the workshop.

Indeed, book development and publishing takes time. It is not easy and it can be messy too. But, if the heart is into this kind of creative endeavor, then, being a part of this industry is worth it. The returns are numerous and the gains are satisfying. Though, I can't claim that authors and artists like Totet and myself will be millionaires in the level of JK Rowling.

The Writer and the Illustrator Collaboration

During the Q&A, I was asked who is the illustrator I wish to collaborate with in the future. I wish to work with Robert Magnuson however, he seemed to be very, elusive.

This question made me think of the reasons I keep in choosing artists to work with. Since my stories are very personal, so is my choice for the book's illustrator. I admire the loving ways of Jomike Tejido towards his daughter. Having met his wife in a school visit, I sense this deep bond between them. He was my first choice for My Daddy, My One and Only. Thank God, Jomike said yes to the project considering how busy he was (and is)!

Raquel's fearful lion! Scaredy cat!
Bernadette Solina Wolf was also my first choice for A Tale of Two Dreams since she has a first hand experience of living in Mindoro. Besides, she knows a good number of Mangyans in the island. The Chocolate Kiss is one of my favorite restaurants. The restaurant is a business managed by Liza Flores' family. I have seen and met her sister there and her mother too. How closely knit she seems to be with her sister and mother. My gut feel told me she would do justice to Dear Nanay. When I saw her studies during the production stage of the book, my separation anxiety surfaced. It was exactly the emotion I want to visually appear in the book.

Totet is a friend and an ally in the advocacy for quality books and children's literature in the Philippines. He is funny, reflective, compassionate and responsible. I know he has sisters. For sure, a guy to be sensitive and perceptive, must have grown up among loving and "annoying" sisters. His work in Big Sister is splendid! In my mind, I hope to work further on with Totet in a workshop where participants can truly create books. It is going to be longer for sure, say two to three days? I don't even know if Totet will agree to the idea.

For now, I hope to keep in touch with the participants via social media. There is a writing and illustrating fellowship that is being talked about among the management team of Lampara Books. It would be my pleasure to be a mentor in this fellowship.

Caption this: ___________________________________
 
Thank you very much to Jun Matias of Lampara Books for the patience, his trust and confidence in me to push for the book projects that would matter to children and uplift writers and artists in the industry. All the best to Carlos Manalansan and Aiko Buduan-Salazar! May your hard work pay off a hundred fold. On to the next book project, my dears!

Awaken the Force: Library Services for Digital Natives

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