City National Bank, Multicultural Author Series, Los Angeles, CA – May 8, 2015

With Pam DiMaria. Behind us is the map of the world where the audience pins the country/countries where their ancestors came from

With Pam DiMaria. Behind us is the map of the world where the audience pins the country/countries where their ancestors came from.

I was invited by City National Bank to present to their staff during their Multicultural Author Series. Many thanks to Noemi Refuerzo and Pam DiMaria for coordinating, and Diego Mojarro for making this video.

Please click at the link below to watch the presentation:

Leslie V Ryan Presents at City National Bank’s Multicultural Author Series

With my friend and former elementary school classmate Noemi Refuerzo.

With my friend and former elementary school classmate Noemi Refuerzo.

I applaud City National Bank’s commitment to diversity in their workforce. Their staff, who comes from all cultural and experiential backgrounds, lends a variety of perspectives and enriches the workplace and enhances their ability to serve the needs of their clients and communities.

City National Bank’s Multicultural Strategy and Initiative


Where Are The Books Celebrating Diversity? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

What kind of stories attract book publishers? Sex and tell-all sell books, or if you are an A-list celebrity, reality show star or involved in some kind of scandal, count on getting some kind of book deal. Why? Because their names, plastered in tabloids and social media, that alone can sell books. What about a normal people with no industry ties or a scandal tied to them, can they sell books? Uh, not!

What about children’s literature?  What sells?  Will a picture book about a cat chasing a ball is string sell more books than a picture book that teaches a child about a different country?  Will the cat book sell more than a book about adoption?

What about a housewife who is not on any reality show, can her manuscript submission warrant a second look? Maybe one or two of them could hit it big, especially if it’s about vampires and warlocks. But what about if the housewife wrote about diversity, race, or being mixed-race? Maybe if she is a celebrity she can get published. But, will she be on the best seller list? Only a handful of books on diversity makes it on the best selling list. Publishers need to make money, and in their eyes, only mainstream books sell. That is why publishers hardly publish books about diversity, and because of that, authors are afraid to write them.

How many best selling books that talk about diversity, race, being mixed-race, disabilities, LGBT, adoption, multiculturalism, and other non-mainstream subjects are there? Recent articles written by CNN Reporter, Ashley Strickland and an article in the NY Times, by Walter Dean Myers  talk about the lack of diversity in literature.

This is my story on the trials and tribulations I experienced in the mainstream publishing world. I wrote “I am Flippish!” while I was fighting breast cancer and going through chemo in 2007. It was St. Patrick’s day and my Filipino-Irish son proudly wore a hat that says “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” A mom told my son that he should take the hat off because he doesn’t look Irish. He was upset and asked me if he was Irish. I replied that he is half Irish and half Filipino – he is Flippish! I was very upset with the mom for saying what she said. After the incident, I looked for children’s books that talk about multicultural families at major book stores and I didn’t find any. Oh, there was a book that came close – about mixed animals. No thanks. It didn’t address the issue directly.   I was disgusted by the lack of children’s books that talks about multicultural families.  I immediately saw a need for a book to explain to children why they don’t look like their parent or parents.  “I am Flippish!” was born — a story written exclusively to explain to my children about their mixed heritage.  Later on, I shared my manuscript to my friends who can relate to my story.

After encouragement from my friends to submit my manuscript to be published because of the growing need for books about multicultural families, I finally did 2009. Little by little, the rejection letters trickled in. Here are some of my favorites:
“Thank you for your submission, the material you sent does not meet our current needs or requirements.”
“We did not feel your manuscript was something we could market at this time.”
“Your manuscript won’t resonate with the mainstream audience.”

I get it, there is no demand for a book that talks about ancestry and multiculturalism.  Message received.  The manuscript stayed in my filing cabinet until 2010.

Five years ago, publishers weren’t ready for a book about mixed race family that talks about why the Filipino-Irish boy doesn’t look like his fair skinned Irish American father. They only saw that it’s only about mixed race families and wouldn’t cater to their mainstream audience. When I asked my son’s teacher Eric, (who is Caucasian) to read my manuscript, he saw beyond what the publishers didn’t see. He saw a book that helps children discover and celebrate their ancestries, and teaches them about diversity, acceptance, and tolerance (his words, not mine). Eric told me that it’s too important of a story to keep to myself and I should take the bull by the horns and self-publish. What? Sacrilege! Self-publish my book? Vanity press? Really? The horror of it. Mainstream publishers scoff that self-published books don’t go beyond friends and family customers. Well, guess what, it was the best decision I ever made. “I am Flippish!” went to press in 2011. Three years later and numerous author visits and press later, I have gone beyond “friends and family.” Thanks to social media, “I am Flippish!” received a wonderful reception from teachers, parents, and children from all over the US, and recently, people in Europe such as the UK (Yes, they are fighting the same battle for more diverse books) have purchased my book.

In the past, the voices demanding more diversity in books, television, cinema, and other arts and media outlets are barely heard — a slight whisper. Now, thanks to social media, the world can come together and make one loud demand — enough to be heard. The companies who have been listening and recently jumped on the diversity wagon are Cheerios Honey Maid Coca-cola Stubhub, Old Navy, Macy’s, Banana Republic, and McDonalds, just to name a few. Television shows such as Modern Family, The Mindy Project, and Scandal are wonderful shows that celebrate diversity. Now, if we can only convince publishers to join in and publish more books celebrating diversity… Thanks to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, journalists, social media, bloggers, and communities demanding for more books that celebrate diversity, they just might do that.  We hope.

The Diversification of Reality TV – Specifically The Bachelor, Season 18 – 2014

This year, I noticed a lot more contestants of mixed heritage.  Maybe I am more in tuned to it because of my Flippish kids and that I am in a mixed marriage?  Nah, I have been married for 14 years and I would have noticed back then if the show had a diverse pool of contestants.  FYI, I have been watching The Bachelor since Season 1.  I don’t know if I should be admitting this, but there you have it.  The cat is out of the bag.  I have been watching 18 seasons of The Bachelor.  It is my guilty pleasure and all you nay sayers can just get over it.

It took lawsuits and complaints against ABC Network that The Bachelor contestants are not very diverse.  I agree.  Throughout the years, a very small amount of African Americans, Asian, and Hispanic were picked for the show.  I was very happy when Puerto Rican American Mary Delgado won the heart of Byron Velvick during Season 6.  Unfortunately that union didn’t last.  After Season 6 I thought there will be a more diverse group of contestants or contestants of mixed heritage.  Or maybe they didn’t stand out or get any air time for me to notice.  And believe me, I notice everything.

Last year, during The Bachelor 2013, we watched Flitalianish (Filipino, Italian, Scottish) Catherine Giudici win the heart of All American Sean Lowe.  I noticed her immediately as soon as she got out of the limo.  I knew she was of mixed heritage.  Her looks or mixed ethnicity weren’t the only things that caught my eye, but her great personality, humor, and positive attitude made me root even harder for her from the beginning.  It was pretty sad she didn’t get much air time.  I guess the ones who creates the biggest drama gets the air time.  She seemed to disappear in the background until later on in the season when Sean finally noticed her.  Finally!  When Sean visited Catherine’s hometown, my kids and I were excited to see that she is part Filipino.  The viewers saw Sean gamely don an apron and learned to cook lumpia.  He seemed to embrace Catherine’s family just like my husband did when he met my family.  Now they are getting married.  I know their kids are going to be multiculturally beautiful.  They will have a lot of great cultures to pull from.

Now we come to Bachelor 2014.  Juan Pablo claims to be the first Latino (he is from Venezuela) Bachelor, but complaints have been made that he doesn’t look it because of his fair coloring.  OMG, no matter what, people will still complain that he is too white, too dark, too ethnic, too non-ethnic.  Blah, blah, blah.  My former nanny is from Peru and she has blonde hair and green eyes and considers herself a Latina.  Just like the USA, Latin America comprises of immigrants of European, Asian, and African ancestries.  Former president of Peru Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) was of Japanese ancestry.  I rest my case.

On to the contestants:

Back to the list of multicultural women that diversify the contestant pool.  They include 1 African American, 1 Latina from Brazil, no Asians, and 5 are of mixed heritage.   I have linked their names to The Bachelor website so you can check out their bio.

Ashley was born in Hawaii and moved to Texas.  She looks mixed doesn’t she?

Clare tells us she is part Mexican.  I was shocked.  Who would have thunk?  She may not look it because she got more of her father’s European complexion.  Just like in my kids, people are shocked to find out they are half Irish.

Chantel is the only African American on the show (aka ABC is being PC).  Need I say more?

Danielle is a stunning woman of mixed heritage.  She reminds me of a writer friend who calls herself Afro-Viking.  I won’t hold it against her that she dislikes my favorite food in the world – sushi.

Lucy the cute free spirit claims she is part Latina – hence her last name Aragon.  She is a little too free spirit for my taste, but as long as it makes her happy, who am I to judge?

Victoria hails from Brazil.  By the looks of tonight’s preview she seems to be a bit of a mess.  I will refrain from commenting further.

Finally, my favorite — but not everyone’s favorite…

Sharleen the reserved opera singer from Canada has a wonderfully mixed heritage.  Her mom is Chinese and her dad is a mix of Irish, French, English, and Aboriginal.  Thus her beautifully exotic look that captivated Juan Pablo.  She is very classy and very reserved.  Frankly, I don’t know why she signed up for a show like The Bachelor?  However, I give her props for the gumption to do something so different from opera.  She got flack for being standoffish and not screaming with joy when Juan Pablo gave her the first impression rose.  Viewers, its called class.

There you go, folks.  Out of 27 contestants, we have 7 women to diversify The Bachelor, Season 18.  Wow!  Maybe I have missed some?  If so, please let me know.  During Sean Lowe’s season there were 6 people of color.  That is more than Season 16 (Ben Flajnik) who had zero.  I am tempted to go through each season to see how many women of color were picked to diversify the pool of contestants, but rather not waste my time counting.  I might get disappointed.  So, Bachelor producers, you are heading in the right direction.  It’s a great start but 7 women out of 27?  You can do better than that.









“I am Flippish!” is coming to San Francisco! – Filipino American International Book Festival, October 19-20, 2013, San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch – San Francisco, CA

“I am Flippish!” is coming to San Francisco!

Filipino American authors and artists have come together to share their stories at the second Filipino American International Book Festival.  Hosted by PAWA, a Northern CA based 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization and independent publisher of Filipino American lit.  PAWA’s main goal is to create and encourage literature and arts for the preservation and enrichment of Filipino and Filipino American historical, cultural and spiritual values.

I am honored to be invited by Mrs. Linda Nietes of the Philippine Expressions Bookshop to participate in this wonderful event.  Come to this free event and get your signed copies of “I am Flippish!” and other wonderful books written by my fellow Filipino American authors.  You can find our books at the Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s booth.

This event will be held:

San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

My assigned schedule at the event is as follows:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

12:30 – 1:30 Fisher’s Children’s Center, 2nd Floor – Reading “I am Flippish!”

2:00 – 3:00 Book signing at Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s table – Table A

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1:00 – 2:00 Book signing at Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s table – Table A

Click Here For More Information About The Filipino American International Book Festival


#mondayblogs #hapa #multiculturalfamilies #biracial #mixeracefamily #filipino #irish #multicultural #kidlit #sanfrancisco


Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s Tent) — 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 7, 2013, Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, CA

Come join me for a day of Filipino arts and culture.  I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” at the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  See you there!

Pt. Fermin Park

807 West Paseo Del Mar

San Pedro (Los Angeles), CA

Click Here For More Information

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Author Visit, Target Free Family Saturday: Share Your Story! – Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA




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I was invited by Heidi Durrow, New York Times Best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky to be a featured author for the Target Free Family Saturday Event at the Japanese American National Museum.

After the reading “I am Flippish!” I gave a Keynote presentation on the stories behind my book, my illustrator, and other fun facts.  My audience also got to pin on my map (pictured) their countries of ancestry.  I will never take any of the pins off.  I will be counting how many pins I get by the end of the year.

Thank you Heidi Durrow and JANM for inviting me to share my book to the families.


Japanese American National Museum: Click Here For Details

Here are more details:

Celebrate the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History and share your story with your family and friends! You won’t want to miss out on this fun Target Free Family Saturday.

• Create a memory book to jot down stories about you and your family.
• Make a family portrait collage.
• Ruthie’s Origami Corner: Fold a fun origami camera.

11AM: Doors open.

11AM-2PM: Make a salad and salad dressing that will soon become a family favorite with Kidding Around the Kitchen.

12PM & 2PM: Bring your memories and prepare to write! Instructor Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo will help you write your own family stories.

1PM: Take a tour of our exhibit Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History with curator Dr. Duncan Williams.

1:30PM: Join us for a ‘mixed’ reading with! Leslie Ryan will read her book I Am Flippish and Heidi Cole will read her book Am I A Color?

2PM: Join us for a screening of the documentary Searchlight SerenadeSearchlight Serenadeexplores the big bands that were formed by Japanese Americans while incarcerated during World War II.

2:30PM: We Tell Stories will perform multicultural tales in Proud To Be Me!

3PM: Allen Say will read his new book The Favorite Daughter. This tale, dedicated with love to Say’s daughter, is one for all parents who want their children to feel pride in their heritage, and to know their own greatest sources of strength and inspiration.

4PM: Doors close.

Generously sponsored by Target, these special Saturdays are filled with fun activities giving families unique ways to learn, play, and grow together.

In conjunction with the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History

Philippines Kalayaan 2013 Independence Day Celebration – Saturday, June 8th, 2013, Los Angeles, CA


It was a great fun filled event and cultural pride.



With my fellow authors Giovanni Ortega and Lorenzo Paran, author and publisher of Salamin Magazine.


With Gladys

Amazing dancers

Amazing dancers

The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) and the PHILIPPINE CONSULATE GENERAL OF LOS ANGELES PRESENTS:

The First ( 115th ) Philippine Independence Day Grand Parade in Historic Filipinotown Los ANGELES

I am very excited to participate in the Philippines Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, June 8th 2013.   Come and support the First Grand PH Independence Parade in Historic Filipinotown.  Philippine Expressions Book Shop is participating in the exhibit and kindly invited Filipino American authors to showcase their books.   I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” with other Fil Am authors: Myrna de la Paz, Sumi Haru, Marvin Gapultos, Albert Mortiz, Giovanni Ortega, Ludy Ongkeko, Lorenzo Paran, and Jay Wertz.


Saturday, June 8, 2013


Silverlake Medical Center 
1711 W. Temple St., Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles
Parade  9:00 a.m.
Program  11:00 a.m.
I will be signing books under the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
I hope to see you there.  Please help support our Fil-Am authors and make sure you check out their books when you visit the Philippine Expressions Booth.
2ND GEN Kalayaan flyer


Family Fair at the OC Mix, Saturday, May 18th, 2013 – Costa Mesa, CA


It was a fun filled event at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa with my fellow authors Dennis Yang, Alva Sachs, MaDonna Waszak, Ryan Afromsky, and Cori Paul.  The weather was sunny and beautiful and being in the company of these wonderful children’s book authors made the day even better.
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