1. Can you tell us your latest news?
Our latest book is out, and it's a fun collaboration with a 9-year-old boy who wrote and illustrated his own pirate book. It's called "The Crew of the Mighty Red Cuda" and 100% of profits will go towards children's education programs. We're donating the funds to Angat Buhay Foundation, which focuses on uplifting the lives of the most marginalized communities in the Philippines. A recent World Bank study found that 9 out of 10 Filipino kids aged 10 can't read, so this is a really pressing issue to address. We also hope that we can inspire more kids to write books and pursue their dreams- and hopefully help others as well.
It will be FREE to download from Nov 7-9, 2022 from 12 midnight PST (3pm GMT +8).
2. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I know there's been a lot of controversy surrounding her lately, but I really love the world that JK Rowling created with her Harry Potter series. While I don't agree with all her views, I don't think anyone deserves to be treated unkindly on either side of the issue. I look up to her as an author and would love to learn from her craft.
3. What was your first published title and what was it about?
Feeling All My Feelings Book, which is about helping kids and adults understand, accept, and overcome the biggest emotions. We want children and their parents to understand that all feelings are okay, but there are things we can do to make things better. We also want parents to realize that they, too, have to set an example so they can teach their kids how to regulate emotions by modeling the strategies that work for them.
4. What inspired you to write your first book?
My son was 3.5 years old at that time, and had the biggest emotions. His tantrums would go from 0 to 100 in minutes, and we'd both have such a hard time trying to figure out ways to help him calm down. When my dad died in 2019, it inspired me to seize the day and finally write my first book. It helped my son, Kyle, manage his own emotions. I hope it can help more families as well.
5. How long did your journey take to publication and what were some significant events along the way?
Writing is easy for me because there are days when the inspiration just flows-- but fixing the rhythm and meter takes a while. I didn't know about these rules when I first started. I tend to read rhyming books like prose, and most customers I talked to also don't mind the meter. But I see the value in it, and so I'm trying to learn as much as I can and improve as I go along. Illustrating is my biggest challenge. It took me a year before I found the courage and inspiration to start my sketches. Then I found a digital artist to improve my sketches and I was able to self-publish 2 years after I wrote my first book. I'm getting faster at it because I was able to write and publish my next 2 books in the same year! My 4th book is coming early next year.
6. Who/what were your sources of inspiration along the way? How did it/ he/she/they help you the most?
My son inspires me the most. I'm amazed at how well he's growing both physically and emotionally. We've both been on a roller coaster of emotions as he was learning how to regulate his feelings. I believe in gentle parenting-- setting firm boundaries, but respecting your child's thoughts and feelings in the process and helping him through it all. Kyle is 6 years old now and is my biggest fan. He's emotionally invested in my books and career, because I always ask for his help and inputs.
7. What was the best thing about getting your first book published?
Sharing a piece of myself to the world, and learning about how my books have helped others. It's the best feeling to know that you've made a positive impact, no matter how small.
8. What was the hardest thing?
I've always found it hard to take criticism, especially from people close to me. It's something I've learned to overcome, and that has helped me grow both as a person and as a writer. It helped to see it from a different perspective-- people aren't criticizing you. They're taking the time to offer constructive feedback about your work, and that's a good thing!
9. What is your most recently released book about?
I started a new series where I collaborate with child authors to bring their books to life for a good cause. My 9-year-old godson, Manu, loves writing and illustrating pirate stories. We worked together to make it better, and reached out to Angat Buhay Foundation in the Philippines to donate 100% of profits for their education programs. 9 out of 10 Filipino children aged 10 still can't read, and we want to change that.
10. How have you changed from your first published book to now?
I've overcome my resistance to following rhythm and meter rules, lol! It was a real struggle for me, because I felt it was restricting my creative juices. I think I'm getting the hang of it though, so to those of you who are particular about rhythm and meter, you'll be happy to know that my 3rd book is getting there. Still not perfect, but I'm learning as I go along. I'm also more open to feedback now. I know that my books aren't for everyone. But I also have enough confidence in my work because of all the parents and kids who shared how my books have helped them.
11. What are your current projects?
I've finished writing my 4th book (3rd book in the Feeling All My Feelings series) which is about Fear. It started off as a story to help kids overcome childhood fears, especially the irrational ones (my son used to be afraid of smelly books, and his cousin used to be afraid of lamps). I shared my manuscript with other authors, and one of them who works with traumatized children said it would be a good resource for them. So I edited some parts to make it more inclusive, and hopefully it will resonate with more kids and help them overcome their fears.
12. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to hug all of you! Thank you so much for reading my books and going on this journey with me. Your support really means the world to me and Kyle, and we love seeing your photos and hearing all the stories about how you have enjoyed our books. If you haven't reached out to us yet, please send us a message anytime. We'd love to connect! We'll send you some freebies to go with the books.
13. Bit of wisdom to share:
There's a child in all of us. Don't lose it! I really believe we can make the world a better place if we use the child within to enact positive change around us. It all starts with you.
14. And for fun, something that not a lot of people know about you.
I was born in a car! I was in a hurry to get out, so my mom only made it to the parking lot of the nearest hospital. I saved my parents a lot of money on hospital fees.
Since the launch date is August 27th (to coincide with my dad's death anniversary), here is the sign up link for those who are interested? So Kim can notify you once the book is out (She'll also send you free emotional regulation activity sheets).
The ebook will be free to download on Amazon from August 27-28 PST.