Looking Back at 2016

31 Dec

2016. What a year it was. But looking back and trying to find a rhyme or reason to it, I have to say 2016 was a year of coming together. Coming together in celebration- getting to spend time with family and friends. Coming together in grief- of lives lost and of what I truly believe is an attack on the American dream and basic human decency.


In February, I went back to the Philippines after 15 years. I loved getting to see my mom, grandma, nieces, and all my relatives there. I wish I could go there more often and I definitely don’t want to wait as long next time! I had a layover at San Francisco and managed to sneak some family time there as well.

*Read about my Philippines trip here.
*Read about the bookstores I visited in the Philippines here.

I went on my annual trip to Las Vegas and I had a great time with family and friends. And throughout the year, I had visits from other people. May we all spend more time with people we love!

My Vegas trip took place during one of my blogging hiatuses so I didn’t get to write about it. I did end up going to the Vegas Valley Book Festival and got to see Nathan Hale, Adam Silvera, Eliot Schrefer, Stephen Savage, Megan McDonald, Selina Alko and Sena Qualls just to name a few.

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June was Pride Month and I decided to go all out in my first year actually celebrating it- walking in the parade and even running a 5K!


But, of course, we also took time to honor the lives lost during the senseless violence of the Pulse Night Club shootings.


-Read about my Pride month here.

Volunteering and Commitment to Literacy

Even though I wasn’t going to chase hours, I’m glad I managed to do 100 volunteer hours for the year! I really enjoyed volunteering with Multnomah County Library- primarily in their Every Child department but also during Staff Day.

I do feel rededicated to volunteering- to do as much good as I can for as many people- after the outcome of the election and being part of the Volunteer Expo and the Volunteer Leader Appreciation Party that Hands On held, as well as reading Spirit of Service.

I ended up donating more money this year than I budgeted for- with the Children’s Book Bank (for my sister Charmaine), Literary Arts, ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, and Donors Choose.

Bookstores and Bookselling

I had a goal to spend at least $12 a month at an independent bookstore for an entire year- 12X12X12 Bookstore Challenge- but it just wasn’t I could do financially.

As a bookseller, I feel I’m pretty good already what I do- and I shouldn’t be too tough on myself for not reading as much of our inventory or getting to know the authors and illustrators who do readings or even the regular customers better. Of course, I want to read more because I’m always impressed by how voracious as readers our shoppers are. They keep me on my toes.


I had started a new blog this year to coincide with my One Little Word- Kindness Conversations– but I had too much on my mind, especially the last quarter of the year. In fact, I even took a couple blogging hiatuses to not feel too overwhelmed.

My Reading Life

I ended up reading 666 books n 2016- at least, according to Goodreads.


Here’s the breakdown:
27 Adult Fiction
28 Adult Non-Fiction
58 Graphic Novels
80 Middle Readers
470 Picture Books
6 Young Adult
(134 Nonfiction Picture Books)



I’ve definitely met up with Bookish People over the year- maybe not as consistently as I originally intended but more realistic in terms of everyone’s schedules including mine.

I organized all my story ideas and works-in-progress by consolidating my multiple notebooks into a binder. It’s been helpful to have them all in one place. By going through my journals, it’s been fun discovering ideas I forgot I had. Of course, since then, I’ve had other ideas I have to compile from my other notebooks!

I did a month-long challenge in January to come up with an Idea a Day. For 2017, January will be when the new Picture Book Idea Month challenge- now called StoryStorm- takes places so I’m going to participate in that.


When my schedule changed for work, I was able to dedicate my Sunday mornings before going to work on writing. It’s something that fell on the wayside that I’m hoping to get back soon.

I finally joined SCBWI as a birthday present for myself in April. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the things they offer but I highly recommend any aspiring or even established book creators to join it.

I managed to finish a first rough draft of a second picture book manuscript. Once I got over the idea of needing to illustrate them, the words came more easily. I’m able to focus more on the story.

How was your year?


2 responses to “Looking Back at 2016

  1. Karen Yingling

    January 1, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Earl, you’ll want to take a look at See You in the Cosmos, Carl Sagan by Jack Cheng. The main character is half Filipino, although it doesn’t come into the story very much. If you can’t find a copy, I can send you mine. Just e mail me or leave a comment on my blog!


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