Archive for the ‘K&L Book Club’ Category
Now my first born knows all about them… the birds and the bees.
She’d been asking many questions the past few weeks and worse, had gathered lots of misinformation. So I decided it was time for the talk lest she get even more confused.
I bought this book
several years ago when I got pregnant with Mikel just in case his sister would ask where he came from. She didn’t. Then when I got pregnant for the 3rd time she asked and was satisfied with “The mommy and the daddy have to pray really hard and ask for a baby”.
But this week, the book needed to be taken out of mothballs. It’s basic and cute and funny and cartoony which was a big help but I never realized how uncomfortable it would be to talk to my own child about this. It’s right up there with talking to your parents about it. I’m not kidding!
She took it well. Some suppressed laughter and squealing on her part but all in all she took it like a big girl. She just said, “But that’s so weird…” So I told her yes, it sounds weird but it’s not at all. It’s very normal and natural and if people didn’t do this, there would be no more people.
I also made her swear not to tell other kids about this new information because only their parents can decide if they’re ready to know or not. And I could tell afterwards that she felt empowered by this new knowledge for “big kids” only. I can only hope…
Something tells me, Kiki, you haven’t yet read Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto.
In case you’ve been under a literary rock and haven’t heard, here’s the set up:
Don’t you love that trailer? Locally produced, I’m proud to say – original music and all!
I managed to finish the book in a few days – reading it during whatever spare time I had. It is a page turner. You want to know how the story unravels as quickly as possible but this is tempered by your desire to take in and savor every delicious word.
I hesitate to produce a full on review here since you haven’t read the book yet but suffice it to say, I couldn’t put it down. There’s some mushy dialogue in there which is not exactly my thing but I was thinking about the book’s people and places days and days after I’d finished it. So much so I just had to tweet Samantha who I don’t really know aside from when I met her at the general assembly of The Guidon when I was a fresh(wo)man and seeing her occasionally in and about the southern metro.
She was kind enough to tweet back and before I knew it, I was asking her for an email interview!
And here it is… Surprise!
Exactly how does a first time Filipina novelist get published internationally? Tell us about the journey from putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to making the best seller list.
I like to think of my journey to publication as a recipe of determination, a dream and a LOT of fairy dust. And oh, yes – chickens too.
Before Ever After was born out of necessity. I needed something to do while my son was in school. The real dream began after I had typed “the end.” That’s when it occurred to me to try to have the book published. My husband and I thought that it would be the best way to show our kids that with enough hard work, any dream – no matter how big – was possible. There was, however, one slight problem: I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing industry.
Luckily, the universe decided to give me a nudge in the right direction in the form of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published.” I stumbled upon the book on a random trip to the mall and took it as a sign. I bought the book and proceeded to educate myself on the industry. That’s how I learned that I needed to get a literary agent to represent me. This part of the process was like applying for a job. Agents choose their clients and not the other way around. Waiting to hear back from agents was like watching polar ice melt. Not. Fun. At. All.
After one agent rejected the manuscript because “it wasn’t polished enough,” I decided to stop querying agents and review the manuscript. I edited it for three months and cut out thirty-five thousand words. I revisited my shortlist of agents and started the querying process again. When about five agents had requested to see the full manuscript, I mustered the courage to send my query to a letter to an agent that I had been “saving.” Her name was Stephanie Kip Rostan and this is where the chickens come into the picture.
I had felt a good vibe when I first came across her name during my online research. She seemed like a good fit for me based on her client list and taste. Her dad also shared a quirk with one of my main characters: a love of etymology. But what sealed the deal for me was her name. I had lived in Holland when I was a teenager and had studied Dutch and so I knew that her middle name, “Kip,” meant chicken. Chickens play a big part in the book and I thought that this was another nudge from the universe. I clicked “send” and sent my query letter along with the first fifteen pages of my book on its way.
Steph responded immediately. She requested for the full manuscript and read it overnight. This was the response I received from her the next day:
Hi Samantha — Well, this hasn’t happened to me for quite some time, but I have a habit of reading the first few pages of new material when it comes in to decide how to prioritize my reading, and every once in a great while, I can’t stop. I had already read the first few pages of your book in your email, so I read a few more when the manuscript arrived and, as I said, couldn’t stop. I stayed up late and finished the whole manuscript last night. I loved it — and I’d love to represent you. Would you like to speak by phone? Which part of the world are you in now?
Steph requested for some revisions and in a couple of months, we were ready to go on submission to publishers. She drew up a list of editors and pitched the book to them. We received the offer from Crown Publishing, a division of Random House on December 23, 2009. It was the best Christmas gift EVER.
You were the (features) editor of your college paper – very different from fiction writing. Is writing fiction something you’ve always done on the side?
Before Ever After is my first work of fiction – unless you count the commercials I made during my past life in the corporate world
Fiction writing is completely different from features writing, but I have to say that my writing background in college helped a lot in terms of the research part of the process. My stint in features writing required a lot of research and that discipline helped me when I was digging around for historical information that I needed in the book. I enjoyed that part a lot. And yes, I am a nerd.
How different or similar are you to your main character, Shelley?
I lent Shelley the impulsiveness of my younger days. It felt good to relive the time when I was the kind of person who sold her car to be able to backpack around Europe for a month.
Max is really the star of the show. How exactly did you conjure him up? And what do you think it is about him that has made him a hit with the ladies who’ve read him?
I wish I could take the credit for conjuring Max up. The truth is that he introduced himself to me while I was stuck in traffic. He came as a complete package – chicken quirks and all. I just listened to him and wrote down his story.
As for what makes him appealing – you’ll have to ask him that
Did you suffer writer’s block while working on the book? If so, which part? And how did you beat the block?
Writer’s block wasn’t a luxury I could afford. I had set a deadline for myself when I was writing the book. I needed to finish the book before summer vacation started because I knew that I wouldn’t have as much time to write when the kids were home. I treated writing like a job. I showed up for work even if inspiration decided to be absent.
You’ve said that your mom was sort of your editor on this project. And this being a love story there are some racy but tasteful bits in the book. What was it like getting your mom to read those parts of the story?
That was my LEAST favorite part. It was like letting your parents read your diary. I cringed every time I typed the word “breast,” knowing that my mom was going to read it at some point.
Before Ever After is lovingly dedicated to your kids. How did they react when in came out? (Are they allowed to read it?)
I’d love to say that they were jumping up and down when the book came out, but to be honest, they simply think of this as their mom’s job. While they both had huge smiles on their faces when they saw their names in the dedication, they were also slightly disappointed that the book didn’t have any pictures.
You have the gift of creativity. What are the things you do to nurture that for yourself – and your family?
Awww…thanks When we started a family, there were two things that my husband and I decided we would not scrimp on: books and travel. We feel that the best way to nurture creativity is to give our kids as many new experiences and adventures as possible. One of the key rules we have in the house is that you can’t say “no” to something you haven’t tried before – whether its broccoli, an art exhibit, or a simulation of a Space Shuttle ride.
Did you have any idea the book would be received so well? How have you celebrated its success?
This experience has been very surreal. I had no clue that the book would receive this much support. Reading the letters readers send me is how I’ve been celebrating so far. This never fails to put a smile on my face. The “official” celebration will happen next year when we take the kids to Europe for a family-friendly version of “The Slight Detour.”
What’s next for you? There’s another novel in the offing, yes?
I’m writing my next book now. I hope to finish it as soon as things quiet down. I need to wrap up a few things first. I’ll be signing books (1:30pm) and will be part of a panel discussion (3:30-4:30 pm) on Sept 18 at the Manila International Book Fair in SMX. I’ll be heading to Singapore after that to launch the book on Sept 25 (2pm, Prologue Book store, Ion Shopping Center, Orchard Road) and then I’m off to the US for more events in October. At some point, I also plan to sleep – but that still needs to be confirmed.
*Thank you, Sam! Kiki and Lala wish you all the best in your future endeavors! We can’t wait to read them.
I recently had as a guest on my show the author of this book:
Joy Abaquin is the administrator at the Multiple Intelligence International School here as well as a multi-awarded educator. Her book “8 Simple Secrets To Raising Entrepreneurs” is a tie up with Joey Concepcion‘s Go Negosyo initiative.
The book has a fun, non intimidating lay-out, so much so Joy says her high school students have read the book too.
I’m half way through 8 Simple Secrets. It’s an easy read and contains a lot of information that most parents already know. But it gives good suggestions on how to encourage your child’s “intelligences” – and before that, how to recognize them. There are also mini-sections on entrepreneur role models who made it.
But the book isn’t only about teaching kids how to start their own business. It talks about teaching kids to be money smart, how to persevere in the face of challenges, how to solve problems. The point is, whether or not your kids will become business owners, they need to have the ever adaptable entrepreneur’s mind set to navigate their way through their fast-changing world. This is a book the generation of our children is lucky to have.
I know this post is a month overdue but better than never…
During the 25th Anniversary of the People Power revolution which I blogged about before we were invited to Tito Peping’s party cum book launch.
He wrote a book? Yes. Apparently, he, Tita Tingting and Marisse had been working quietly on and off over the past few years to bring this book to fruition.
The book details the long road from dictatorship to democracy. There are chapters written by people other than the three. Some of the writings are by Ninoy and Cory. Other parts are told by Ballsy, Nick Joaquin and Lupita Aquino so it’s a personal telling of historical events. Skeptics might say this could taint the accuracy of the content but years from now when there is no one left to tell the stories first hand, this book will be truly priceless.
For me, since I was just a twinkle in my parents’ eyes at the time of many of these events, His Story gives me a more coherent picture the Martial Law years. I would hear of the rallies , riots and arrests but did not have a good grasp as to the chronology and details.
I started on the first few chapters then stopped to finish other books on my night stand but I am due to start His Story again soon.
As for the night itself, you missed some succulent lechon baka…
Here’s what Tito Peping and Marisse wrote. (Note Rocio asked for her own dedication!!)
You should ask LittleTwinBro what was written in his copy
If you remember, the movie is about these Jesuits evangelizing indigenous people living above a waterfall in the rain forests of South America. These Jesuits chose to be teach not by the sword but by immersing in and embracing the rich, raw and untouched culture of these indians. This strategy resulted in a productive and bustling system of missions built for and with the locals. Doesn’t this sound so much like Gawad Kalinga?
Jeremy Irons stars as Gabriel, the fearless Jesuit priest who believed that nothing but love could conquer hatred and violence.
Robert de Niro stars as Mendoza, a mercenary who became a Jesuit.
He taught the indians how to fight for their territory against the Portugese. He ended up fighting alongside the people he trained to save the land that rightfully belonged to the locals.
Everything about this film was excellent – the actors, the music, the beautiful scenery. It’s as relevant as it was centuries ago as it was in 1986, when the movie was made, as it is today. It’s interesting to observe that the issues that plagued their world then are the same sources of conflict we see in our world today. The politics between church and state, the inflexibility of the Church, the taking of land from its rightful owners, the subordination of people who are thought to be less sophisticated – ALL THE SAME ISSUES. We have not learned…
After watching this movie I remembered that I had a book resting in my shelf that might be related to this movie. Do you remember this book?
Light Cavalry was written by the great Horacio de la Costa, S.J. While this book only talks about how the Jesuits established the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, I thought that it touched on the same themes tackled by The Mission. Reading this book now has been a richer experience for me. As you are the bigger history nerd between us, you might wanna watch the movie and read the book. I’m enjoying myself.
I bought several books during my trip. Even if bookstores in Manila have improved over the years, there’s nothing quite like book browsing in the States.
It’s about the roundup of French jews in Paris in the summer of 1942. The event is considered especially dark in French history because it was French policemen – not the Nazis – who rounded up their fellow citizens and sent them to camps in the French countryside before sending them to Auschwitz. Most of the victims were children – about four thousand of them. Very few people even knew about the roundup until Jacques Chirac talked about it in a speech a few years ago.
The book tells the stories of two fictional characters. The first is of Sarah – a 10 year old girl whose family is forced from their apartment in the middle of the night. In an effort to protect her beloved four year old brother, she locks him up in their secret hiding place and promises to return for him. The other story takes place 60 years later. American journalist in Paris, Julia Jarmond, is tasked with finding out as much as possible about what was called the Vel D’Hiv roundup. Her research unearths a painful family secret and alters her future forever.
It’s not the best written prose I’ve read but the story unravels in a manner so engaging that the pages almost turn themselves.
I must admit, coming to this book launch initially felt like a chore. But there was no excuse for me not to go as I was already in the area and I told your Little Twin-hubby and another friend who invited that I would go (yes, I my word is as strong as oak). And so it came to pass that the girl believed to bring bad luck to the basketball team and banned from basketball games ends up in a book launch about basketball. Correction: Basketball in the Philippines.
And what a pleasant and immensely entertaining surprise this guy turned out to be. As you already know, Rafe Bartholomew went to the Philippines as a Fulbright scholar and spent 3 years in Manila meeting average height men and immersing in a culture so tightly intertwined with basketball. He served us a generous helping of excerpts from his book, Pacific Rims, which only brought out laughter and more laughter from us, his captivated audience. Here are some shots I took of him.
Check out the full house.
And the groovy host of the event. She caught me about to snap a photo of her and immediately struck this pose. Taray!
After the reading and Q&A, he agreed to sign some books.
We got to chat longer than usual when I dropped your Little Twin-hubby’s name. And the animated conversation just revolved around your in-laws.
At the end, I went home with a new book to devour and a short note…
Operations audit at work? Done. Drink with NYU friend? Done. Pacific Rims book launch? Done! Today didn’t turn out to be so bad after all.
For most of this year I’ve been feeling like I…we (you and me) are right on the cusp of something, like at the tipping point of change – good change, I hope. And if you look around you change seems to be the recurring theme nowadays. You and I know that social change and any kind of change in the macro level is only possible through personal change. As we’ve learned, everything we do creates a halo of effects and we never really know the extent of its impact.
He talked about the basic message of the book by explaining how we are all connected and that our actions affect each other. He used the example of the business of child slavery, which apparently is a billion dollar industry – think $12 billion! While most of us are very far removed from such a tragedy, our daily actions may be promoting this industry. How? By patronizing and purchasing products manufactured in sweat shops or factories that employ children. This fact is not new to us and yet sadly, this fact still remains a fact, a reality. Hopefully, this book will inspire people to be aware of our connectedness (in so many levels) and work on a personal change. Here are some photos I took of the event.
So as we end this insane year that was 2009, let’s remember that famous Sam Cooke song (Sam who??).
Oh there been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long,
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.
As you know, I am trying to get Rocio off the crappy offerings tv has these days. Especially that of The Worst Celebrity Influence of 2009.
So we were in the bookstore a few weeks ago and strangely, she picked out this book.
I was so surprised because it wasn’t the usual shiny, trendy, ultra colorful kind of tome she’d normally pluck off the shelves. She simply said she remembered seeing it in the library at school. I started to read it to her and she was hooked.
Caddie Woodlawn is the title character inspired by the author’s grandmother who was actually called, Caddie Woodhouse. The story is set in the 1860s and centers around the tomboyish 11 year old and her pioneering family in Wisconsin. I’d never heard about this book before. I was very much a Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder kind of kid. But Caddie Woodlawn was written before Little House and it apparently won the Newbery Award in 1936. (Laura just got more famous thanks to the TV series).
How my pop music-loving, rock star-idolizing 6 year old is so into this story about a girl from another time who is fascinated by Native Indians, runs wild and free in the woods picking berries and hazelnuts, gets around in a canoe, wrestles with the school bully and can’t relate to her prim and proper older sister is a pleasant development. Not just that she is intrigued by the content but that she never complains there are no pictures to go with the story.
I do have to stop once in awhile to explain in more contemporary language about what’s going on but we’ve been averaging a chapter or two a day and it’s become something she (and I!) look forward to. Who knew?
Oh and if you’re ever in Dunn County, Wisconsin, Caddie’s 1856 house is still standing. It’s been moved from it’s original location but you can visit it at what is now the Caddie Woodlawn Historical Park.