Friday, June 3, 2022

SUPERKICKS _____ What to talk about at our Superkicks school talks

NOTE: Hi! I recently posted an update clarifying Benedict Boo's role in this series, you can read it here. You can also read other posts in the Superkicks: The Secret Journals series here.


My Superkicks fiction series features lots of thrilling action in various learning environments, not just in schools but also at the Superkicks training programme created by Dr JJ Khan, the central mentor character.

These scenarios are all inspired by my own experiences. Fun fact: my first job after my A-Levels, before my National Service, was as a relief teacher.

Later, I completed my teacher training at the National Institute of Education, and went on to do my MA and PhD at the National University of Singapore. That's how much I enjoyed the feeling of learning and growing.

I also love to create rich learning experiences for others. Many of my course mates were educators, and through them I worked on lots of exciting projects in schools, everything from creative arts to science education, mostly involving some new form of interactive or media technology.

Due to recent requests, I'll be offering a new series of Superkicks talks for primary schools, both in person and over Zoom. These sessions can be customised for assembly talks, or for smaller groups.

Here are some relevant topics close to my heart.


Me looking sporty at a school talk, back in
the early years of Super Cool Books.
 
1. Good Character Values
These Superkicks stories are a great way to get students thinking about their own behaviour, and how this affects the people around them.

What makes a happy team? How can young leaders get respect and cooperation from team members? What is trust, and how is this earned? Why is a sense of community important?

While doing research for this Superkicks series, I was inspired to learn that over the last one million years humans have grown increasingly cooperative as well as empathetic, and these traits helped us thrive and evolve. This is Dr Khan's main insight in training the young players.

By the end of this session, students will learn to recognise basic patterns of team behaviour, with reference to scenes in the Superkicks stories, and also get tips on creating positive, happy teams.
 
2. Writing with Rhythm
How do I manage to write so many stories that readers enjoy? A big part of this is writing sentences that have a nice, lively rhythm.

Just think of the classic phrase, "once upon a time". It has a catchy, inviting rhythm, "dum-dadum-da-dum", which makes you want to settle in and listen on.

For this session, we will look at one or two very short stories written in an awkward or flat rhythm, and I will demonstrate some quick and easy ways to make them read better.

These tips will help students become more confident and resourceful when expressing themselves.

3. Hollywood Writing Secrets

When writing any kind of narrative, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, it's important to have a basic sense of sequential storytelling, or the piece will end up disorganised and even incoherent.

For this talk, I will demonstrate a simple method that Hollywood scriptwriters use to create coherent and engaging stories, by working with the classic Beginning-Middle-End structure to convey a sense of cause and effect.
 
Students will get to write their own short story outlines, and receive quick feedback from me.

 
I'm also open to requests for any specific themes or skills to be covered.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, previously Super Cool Books had an arrangement with Benedict Boo to be our schools salesperson for this series, but now I'm most thrilled to share my enthusiasm and literary mentorship directly in this way.

So do watch this blog for details on signing up for these talks, especially if you're a teacher or parent looking to book a session.  

We thank everyone for your generous support of this series so far.

Let's look forward to a great Superkicks experience!

:)

— Don
  
 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SUPERKICKS _____ And now, the truth about the man behind the Superkicks schools programme

NOTE: Hi! I recently posted an update clarifying Benedict Boo's role in this series, you can read it here. You can also read other posts in the Superkicks: The Secret Journals series here.
 

When I was writing my Superkicks football fiction series, I made a lot of notes in my journals. Notes about all the characters, the different locations in the storyworld, the kind of interesting situations the young players would get into, and also my future plans for this series.

It's been a very rewarding experience going through all these notes again.

Right from the start, I was very intrigued by one particular character, who doesn't actually get much of a spotlight in the stories. This was Dr JJ Khan, the man who created the Superkicks schools programme.

He's a successful entrepreneur who commits his own investment and reputation to give young players a chance to pursue their passion and experience something greater.

The main characters in this series are a bunch of young and enthusiastic players who have their own expectations of the Superkicks programme.

They mostly want to have fun and enjoy an adventure. They just want to play and enjoy the game.

Because, naturally, kids will always be kids! This is how they learn and grow.
 
 
Thank goodness for a generous person like Dr Khan, who is willing to step up and be the gamemaster behind it all, the thoughtful person who makes it possible for all the young players to shine.
 
But what motivates a person like Dr Khan? What is the truth that inspires him?

Many years ago, when I was a young magazine editor, I interviewed a number of entrepreneurs and sports leaders.

I learnt that their days were often filled with tough work, tough decisions and big responsibilities. There would always be factors beyond their control.

And sometimes additional challenges may come from within the team, as teammates might get distracted and carried away with their own circumstances, feelings or self interests.

What often helped these leaders pull through was focusing on the vision, and patiently removing the obstacles that hold the team back.

This is a helpful lesson that I've also enjoyed exploring in my Superkicks stories, as I developed Dr Khan's background.
 
To the public, he is a mysterious man who somehow gets great things done. But in his heart, he simply has an incredible focus on his vision. And this is what makes him a legendary gamemaster. I won't share any spoilers here, you can read the three books in my Superkicks series to find out more.


Our Super Cool Books logo on
the back cover of the three Superkicks books
 
I actually started Super Cool Books just to show my two sons how to write stories and publish books. But things kept growing, and over the years we've produced a whole catalogue of books with various publishing partners. This was only possible through the kind support from all kinds of people in the community, both players and gamemasters.

At this point in my life, I've grown all the more aware that no person can succeed in life alone, we always need the right relationships that can nurture positive results.

And I see that this is really what my Superkicks stories are about, basically using the game of football to shine a light on the game of life. 
 
Fun fact: there are also intriguing gamemaster-type characters in my other Super Cool Books titles, including the My Blade Quest, Lion City Adventures and Last Kid Running series. You can click on the respective sections in the sidebar on the right to find out more.

It's a joy to share these thoughts about the Superkicks writing process. Do come back and read more future musings inspired by my Superkicks journals, okay? The secrets will be shared.

: )

I wish you all happy playing. May you get to build your own team one day. And when you become your own gamemaster, may you be blessed with finding good players that can contribute positively to the vision.

 
— Don
 
 
 
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Thursday, May 12, 2022

SUPERKICKS _____ Secrets revealed: how I wrote these thrilling football stories for young readers

NOTE: Hi! I recently posted an update clarifying Benedict Boo's role in this series, you can read it here. You can also read other posts in the Superkicks: The Secret Journals series here.

All illustrations here are from the Superkicks books
 
 
Keeping journals is something lots of writers do, and it's a great habit to have if you want to improve your craft and creativity.

Recently I've been going through my old writing journals in our Super Cool Books studio, and I came across those that I used for creating the three books in my Superkicks football fiction series: Time to Play, Best Shot, and Dare to Dream.

I had a good time looking at all the ideas and sketches that I made when I was preparing to write the books. I'm very happy to share some insights here, so that they can inspire you on your own writing journey too. There will be more posts in the future about this, so do follow us.


Why I love football stories

As I've shared before (here), the inspiration for this really came many decades ago, when I was still in primary school.

I had a collection of British football comics that I inherited from my older cousins, they were twins.

One comic series was Roy of the Rovers, and the other was called Tiger. (The links lead to the Wikipedia pages for these comics.)

Each issue featured a bunch of different football stories that would continue every week.

And these tales didn't just focus on the game, but also explored the team relationships, the personal and emotional challenges, and also the craziness that sometimes happens when people get carried away with their passions.  

Some of the stories had been running on and on for decades already, based on the same characters. I was amazed to see that it was possible to develop such an epic level of storytelling.

I still remember thinking to myself that one day I would like to try creating a football series myself, and give young readers a similar reading experience.  

This was how Superkicks came to be.


How I came up with the title of this series

Whenever I start working on a new book, or a new series, I often begin by deciding on a tagline that captures the concept and the emotional direction.

It's important to get this tagline right, because it really helps me focus, and I can then gather more ideas to flesh out the premise.

For this series, the tagline I came up with was: "Super Cool Books is excited to bring you some Super Cool Kicks!"

I liked that the word "kicks" here is a pun, it has three relevant meanings:

1. to hit something with your foot
2. something thrilling
3. a hip slang for sports shoes

This tagline was obviously too long to be the title of the book, so I played around with it and eventually decided to just keep the first and last words: "Super … Kicks".

When I wrote this out as one word, I thought, wow, this would be a really cool and punchy title indeed!

And that was how Superkicks got its name.

 
Bringing my Superkicks publishing journey to you

I have a lot more stuff to share with you, from my Superkicks journals.

Like how the girl footballers in this series were inspired by a group of female friends from my old university hostel, who came together to form their own football club. Fun fact: back then my wife was their goalkeeper for a while.
 
And how we worked out the publishing process.

You'll also learn how some of the funniest bits in the series were actually contributed by one of my sons, he has a nice knack for linguistic humour.

So look out for my future posts!
 
Writing a story is not just about knowing what words to use. It is about diving into your own personal life moments, and turning this into a wonderful reading experience that others can share and find a meaning in.

The truth is powerful indeed.

I hope my Superkicks journals help you create your own stories too.

Be proud of your own talent, work diligently to improve yourself, and be confident to share what you've created with the world.

The next time you read one of my Superkicks books, I hope you remember these points.

I wish you a happy life!


— Don
 
 
 
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Friday, May 6, 2022

SUPERKICKS — A short clarification regarding our Superkicks book series and arrangement with Benedict Boo


Our Super Cool Books logo

As some of you may know, our Superkicks series was launched in 2016, and we have published three books so far: Time to Play, Best Shot, and Dare to Dream. These stories follow the adventures of a group of friends who are passionate about playing the game.

The series was inspired by a collection of dusty British football comics that I inherited from my older cousins when I was in primary school. One comic was Roy of the Rovers, and the other was called Tiger.

Each issue featured a bunch of different football-related stories that would continue every week. They were extremely gripping, and I found myself caring about what happened to the characters. This was really how I got interested in learning to write captivating stories that could somehow keep you reading on and on. I still remember thinking that one day I would like to try creating a football series myself.  

Our Super Cool Books logo on
the back cover of the three Superkicks books

This Superkicks book series was one of the exciting projects I developed with my two young sons through our Super Cool Books imprint. We came to an arrangement to partner with Benedict Boo as a sales representative and organiser of school events to promote this series. To help give him some credibility and motivation, we agreed to list him on the cover as a co-author.

Following certain recent developments, we are now required to formally clarify his role in this series.

Benedict Boo has never been involved in the actual writing or development of the three Superkicks stories. His role is to conduct sales and promotional talks to sell the books. He has never been involved in the writing or creative development of any Super Cool Books titles.

His status as a "co-author" is in order to facilitate promotional operations related to selling the Superkicks books.
 
For the time being Super Cool Books will be pausing all promotional efforts in support of the Superkicks series, until we can resolve certain administrative issues. This is only temporary, we hope to resume support as soon as possible.
 
If you are a marketing or retail partner that might be affected by this, or if you have any related queries, please feel free to reach out to us at: studio@supercoolbooks.com. We will do our very best to assist with your situation.

I sincerely thank everyone for your kind support for this series, I look forward to sharing more exciting adventures set in the Superkicks storyworld in the years ahead.
 

I've also started a new series of posts on this website titled Superkicks: The Secret Journals, to share what really happened behind the scenes during our publishing journey. You can follow these posts here.
 
What we can imagine, we can create!


— Don Bosco
Author and publisher
Super Cool Books





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Want to learn more about
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