Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The First Day

LittWorld 2006 opened on November 12 with four simultaneous two-part sessions. Since LittWorld was being held in Latin America, there was a meeting of ASEC and Letra Viva Member Publishers. The other three sessions concern editors, writers, and marketing strategists. Naturally, being a writer, I attended the session on "Disciplines and Habits of the Effective Writer" by Lawrence Darmani of Ghana and US best-selling author Robin Jones Gunn.

I was excited to meet Robin because I had earlier read a Tagalog translation of one of her fiction books titled Secrets. I spent much of my high school years reading secular romance novels, so when I became a Christian and discovered Robin's romantic novel, I was delighted. I must admit I was star-struck seeing author Robin Jones Gunn. I couldn't believe I was sitting in the room listening to her and Lawrence's valuable writing tips. If it had not been for God who brought me half-around the world to Brazil, I wouldn't be here learning from the pro. Let me share some of the nuggets of wisdom that Lawrence Darmani and Robin Jones Gunn shared in that session for writers:

"Great books have been born out of a tiny idea that was captured and not forgotten."
"Effective writers don't abandon their manuscripts. They finish them."
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm (Churchill)."
"We are Christians before we are writers."

Another highlight for me for the day was the privilege to be one of the two participants to lead in the opening prayer during the opening night program. Sirima Githinji of Kenya prayed in his native Swahili while I prayed in Tagalog. Before the 200 or so participants in that room, I uttered a thanksgiving to God and asked for God's grace, wisdom, and strength to sustain us in the next days to come, and for Him to enlarge our vision to publish for His glory.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Looking Forward to the Conference

Marlene, Dawn, and Sawsan

Littworld 2006 doesn't officially start until after lunch of November 12, so those of us who were already at the conference hotel decided to go to the nearest shopping area to buy some souvenirs. My roommate Sawsan and I, as well as people from MAI--John Maust and his wife Elsa, Dawn Herzog Jewell, and a few others went together.

Since Brazil is well-known for its coffee, I bought some packs to bring home to my friends and donors. I also bought several biscuits. And since I collect key chains, I bought a few chains too with the flag or map of Brazil engraved on them. It took me a while to make calculations as I do the purchase because this was my first time to deal with real, Brazil's currency. Actually, my mind was making calculations in three currencies- in real, in dollars, and in pesos (my country's currency)! With a few items and souvenirs on hand, we went back to Atibaia.

More participants from other countries have started arriving--others exhausted but relieved to be at the hotel, others happy to find familiar faces from previous Littworlds, others perhaps a bit nervous for being in a new place surrounded by people who speak a different language--yet all, I believe, look forward to a refreshing week of publishing conference.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Setting Foot in Sao Paulo

After a week’s stay in Germany, I flew to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris where I took a connecting flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The ride was bumpy and made me dizzy all throughout the trip. It was a relief to finally land and enter another continent, another country, another airport. I was finally in Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil and about a day away from attending Littworld 2006.

Our flight was a bit delayed that’s why it was already around 9:00 p.m. when I arrived at the airport. I had earlier informed the Littworld organizers of my expected arrival time so that they could arrange someone to meet me at the airport. Every one of the participants would be welcomed by someone from the local host and bring them to Atibaia Resort Hotel, the conference venue. I scanned the arrival area for someone carrying a “LITTWORLD” sign, but found no one. I thought maybe the one who was supposed to fetch me left for a while when I did not arrive as scheduled. But I was confident they would look for me.

After a few more minutes of waiting and searching, I decided to scribble the words “LITTWORLD” in my notebook. I lifted up my hurriedly made sign, hoping someone from the welcoming committee would spot me. As I turned around, I saw a lady, holding up a “LITTWORLD” sign as well, with a luggage in tow just like me.

Our eyes met, and almost simultaneously we asked each other, “Littworld? Are you attending Littworld?” We both nodded, happy to find each other. It felt good to find another participant to the conference, especially since we’re both, at that moment, finding our way through. After exchanging names, Sawsan (from Lebanon) and I decided to call the telephone number that was given to us earlier by the organizers. With the help of a Portuguese-speaking airport staff, we were able to talk to someone from Littworld and in a few minutes we were warmly met and escorted by a very tall, curly-haired gentleman to the lounge on the next floor. There we met other participants Lizzie Sotola from Argentina and speaker Lawrence Darmani from Ghana. The four us were the ones expected to arrive that night of November 10. We were so glad to have finally reached Sao Paulo, and relieved to be on our way to Atibaia Residence Hotel, our conference venue.