Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SCBWI SG _____ #KidLitter May 2018 updates

NOTE: This is an update for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Singapore Chapter. Interested in joining us? More information here. Updates compiled by Melanie Lee and Don Bosco.

#kidlit #kidlitart #kidlitchat #scbwi #scbwisg #afcc #kidlittersg

Presenting #KidLitter, this SCBWI SG quarterly update. Illustration: Dave Liew

Coming: Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2018 (6 -8 SEP). Sign up already

April: SCBWI board member Christopher Cheng shared tips for authors and illustrators

April: Tayo Irvine Hendrix, daughter of Jimi Hendrix, introduced her picture book Hummingbirds at Closetful of Books

Join the Picture Book Critique Group, get feedback and support every Wed 10am (except last Wed of the month, 8pm). Contact Leila

Congratulations, Evelyn Bookless, for the launch of Captain Green and the Plastic Scene! Environmental superhero indeed

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Make your own 
Quick Kiddy Comic!
It's easy. Try this worksheet.

Sign up for the
Asian Festival Of Children's Content 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

STORYCODE SG _____ Meet young sculptor-preneur Cheryl Lai, she makes clay characters that are ready for their own adventures

NOTE: You can join the StoryCode SG meetup group here.

The StoryCode community is about discovering and sharing new forms of storytelling, especially those combining old and new technologies in novel and fascinating ways.

Often, we write our stories, using words to create a reading experience. Like this 100 WRITERS support group for fiction creators.

But we could also sketch or doodle our stories, and share these as digital comic strips, as we've done in these Captain Cardboard workshops that we've organised.

Or this Quick Kiddy Comic creative exercise we developed with SCBWI Singapore.

We've had Lego storytelling workshops too.

And VR sessions for storytellers.

Also, storytelling tabletop games.

These days, even stuffed toy bears can tell stories on social media. Meet BlooBurr.

For creators, the challenge is to engage an audience, let people participate in your storyworld, and maybe even buy a part of it, if it really connects with them.

A few weeks back, I created a doodle of myself, as an intergalactic fiction explorer, returning from a world of stories, excited to share my super-deminsional cosmic imagination with young readers.

And then I met clay artist Cheryl Lai. Inspired by BlooBurr, a crazy idea hit me. Could she turn the doodle into a clay figurine of me? Well, she did. And this is what the whole process looks like, step by step.

I’ve since been using this little figure on Instagram, setting up dramatic 3D scenes with my published books. 

As for Cheryl, she keeps busy selling her clay characters on her Etsy store, and working up an audience on Instagram.

Here’s a quick interview with her, below, so you can learn more about this art of creating clay characters. Do feel free to contact her, her details are at the end of the interview.

Have fun, and imagine happy stories. Lots and lots of them. And put these out into the world.

Whatever you can imagine, you can create.

– D


Tell us about yourself and your Etsy store.
I am a freelance illustrator, and an alumni who just graduated from SOTA last year. A few years ago, I found out about clay and sculpting, where I started to make little creations to sell locally through Instagram. This year, I wanted to take it to a more international scale, and that was how PigeoncraftsStudio -- my Etsy store -- started.

How did you pick up the skills to create clay figures?
Everything I now know is all self taught and learnt, through observation, practice and watching tutorials online. I first started out in 2014, and gained a following on Instagram, where I sold custom clay figurines and jewellery for customers. This helped to expose me to a variety of techniques, forms and styles of sculpting.

How would you describe your style? 
I would say that my style is more cartoony and cute, but also clean and simple. Apart from custom orders, the works I make are usually inspired by anime films from Studio Ghibli, children's' cartoon like Pokemon, and Japanese mascots such as Hello Kitty. I like using a variety of mediums in my creations other than clay, such as paint, resin, and glitter, in order to get the best end results.

What are some interesting clay figures you have made?
This is the most recent large-scale piece I made, with eight characters from Studio Ghibli's anime films, and a simple setting. This is a more unique piece, as I usually make smaller characters as charms:

Similarly, this is a piece (below) inspired by Sumikko Gurashi, which is a set of fictional characters produced by the Japanese company San-X. It was the very first piece I put up for auction, and each component is removable to resemble a dollhouse play set experience.

These are two of the few interactive creations I have made, where the swing works, and the bread is removable from the toaster. I will be exploring more into such creations in the future, and hope to make more creations that can be both decorative and fun.






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You can make your own quick comic!
For all ages.

Attend the Asian Festival of Children's Content 2018
6 - 8 September 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

100 WRITERS _____ Murphy the dog helps you shine and make this world a better place, says new picture book author Chen Wei Teng

NOTE: This post is part of my 100 WRITERS project. More information here.

Self-publishing can be a thrilling experience. When we started Super Cool Books back in 2011, we self-published quite a few books. Mostly to invest in our own creative decisions. Two of these book projects in particular, the Sherlock Hong series and the My Blade Quest series, have since been acquired and developed further by partner publishers. The Sherlock Hong series was taken up by Marshall Cavendish in 2015, and we have four thrilling books available, with warm reviews from parents and young readers. My Blade Quest was released by Armour Publishing last year, a full series of six books with outstanding illustrations and fantastic cover designs. Wonderful reception there too. And we're still in discussions with other publishers about developing a few more self-published Super Cool Books titles.

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Chen Wei Teng, an educator in Singapore who has also self-published her first picture book, about a very special dog named Murphy. She has a real desire to use her storytelling skills to connect with students who have learning disabilities, or are under-privileged in any way. And her book has such heartwarming pictures too. Her interview has lots of insightful information for fellow authors. If you're keen to work with her, her contact info is at the end of this post.

I wish all of you happy writing! Make books that matter.

— D 


Hi, tell us about yourself and your book!
I am an educator based in Singapore. “Murphy, See How You Shine!” is my first children’s picture book (self-published). The story of Murphy touches on the themes of making meaning amidst life’s imperfections, and recognising we all have gifts within us that can help make this world a better place. It is about a blind dog named Murphy who wrestles with his inadequacies and low self-esteem. However, Murphy has an unusual skill. He is trained as a diabetic-alert dog who often comes to the rescue of his owner who has diabetes. His subsequent encounter with a young boy with diabetes made him realise how much of a gift he can be to others around him.

Murphy is meant to be a representation of children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or simply those who have always felt different from their peers. My wish is for my readers who have met setbacks in life to come to realise that they have precious gifts within them, just like Murphy. And when they are able to embrace themselves, warts and all, they too realise they can shine and help make this world a brighter place to be in, in their own unique ways.

What inspired you to write this book?
The idea for the story took root 10 years ago when I was working as an educational therapist with the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). Inspired by the ingenious minds of these children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and dyspraxia I worked with, I was touched by my students’ capacity to thrive despite their struggles to learn.

Currently working as a Literacy Coach at NorthLight School where I work with teenagers with learning difficulties (and where I continued to be inspired by my students!), the story was borne in a bid to celebrate the lives of the students whom I encountered. Northlight School is a vocational school that takes in students who failed their PSLE. Many of these students struggle to cope with their learning difficulties and to make meaning for themselves, having come from challenging and disadvantaged family backgrounds. Unavoidably, many suffer from low self-esteem and see themselves as “failures” in life.  Yet they also long to be affirmed and recognised for who they are. They wish to tell the world that they are made of something, that they are not to be dismissed. These experiences with the students inspired me to write a story that will allow more people to understand the struggles experienced by children and teenagers who have fallen out of the mainstream, and the emotional baggage they tend to carry around.

I also hope the book can be a tool to help children in their social-emotional learning. With adults reading the book to them, my wish is for the book to offer a platform to plant seeds of conversation and start a discussion about disabilities, learning difficulties, being different and how to overcome obstacles by making meaning amidst life’s imperfections.

Another reason for writing this book is to raise funds for a school in Nepal that I am supporting (10% of the sales proceeds from the books go towards funding New Vision Academy (

What was your creative process like, as you worked with the illustrator?
I am really glad to have Hong Shin illustrate my book (who has himself just written and illustrated his 2nd children’s picture book, “The Incredible Basket” published by Epigram) as he understands very clearly the theme behind my story. He displays an innate sensitivity which is evident from his works. It helps too that he has experience working with the same group of children and youths who are the inspiration behind the story. Other than being very talented, his ability to listen well, open-mindedness and his willingness to share makes the collaboration a very enjoyable process. I love how we are able to bounce ideas off each other and build on them even though we may have different perspectives. 

How have you been promoting this book?
Because this is a self-published effort, I am learning how to be an authorpreneur (a new term I learnt!), marketing and distributing my books. There are so many areas that I envisage Murphy’s story can reach out to and I am really excited. From targeting dog shelters, dog lovers (Murphy used to stay in a dog shelter) and groups that work with dogs as service dogs, to looking into the area of special education needs and exploring the theme of inclusivity which is gaining traction in Singapore, I am looking forward to sharing Murphy’s story to lots more people. 

My book is also designed to be dyslexic-friendly, with the usage of a sans serif font (with no tails at the end of the strokes), and a bigger font size. The spacing between letters and between lines is also increased so that the story offers an easier read. I hope this reaches out to the dyslexic children and youths out there!

How has your life changed after writing this book?
Frankly speaking, as I am a homebody and my default choice of how to spend my free time is a no-brainer (home!), I now have to actively get out of my comfort zone (physically and metaphorically!), so that I won’t have books stocked up at home! It has been an exciting journey thus far, and I am grateful to Murphy, for bringing me to places and allowing me to meet many interesting people. It’s an exciting feeling to have at times, not knowing what’s waiting for me at the corner of the street. 

But most of all, I would say, this book reaffirms and strengthens what I know – that stories have a inherent ability to touch and connect people. Different things in the book speak out to different individuals, I realised, from my various story-telling sessions to the public and with my students at Northlight School. And it’s wonderful to know my story plays a small part in helping an individual reconnect himself/herself to this universe.


Where to get the book:

Kinokuniya bookstores

E-book versions:

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Book 3: Dare To Dream
In stores now!


Explore Singapore! 
Read the books, solve the puzzles 
& have fun with the many activities

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

100 WRITERS _____ "Every word has to resonate, buzz and hum with the essence of life." — Don Bosco

NOTE: This post of part of my 100 WRITERS project. Find out more here.

"In the digital format, you have to be really emotional and direct. Unlike print, where the page is static and you can allow the page design to work for you, digital has to be immediate. The screen is sometimes very small, and always very active. Readers can scroll past your words at any time, or just switch over to another app. So maybe it’s like telegram. You really need to know what you’re trying to convey. Every word has to resonate. Buzz and hum with the essence of life. That’s why I love digital.

This is where the small publishers can really stand out. Because you don’t need big budgets. A simple Twitter comment or Instagram photo can help people grasp what you’re about. And recognise your book as something they need to read." 

- Don Bosco

My quote above, what a thrill, it's from a recent interview I did on The Winged Pen website. Endless thanks to fellow kidlit author Kristi Wientge for setting this up. The Winged Pen is a website dedicated to enriching fellow writers who create stories for children and teens. They cover everything from creative inspiration to submitting your work and staying motivated through tough patches. Check out especially their FOUR ON 400 monthly contest, where one lucky reader gets to have four of their contributors provide feedback on your manuscript.

You can read my full interview here. I talk about how Super Cool Books started, why authors should promote their own books on the internet, and the biggest lesson that I've learnt so far.

I wish you lots of happy writing!

— D

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by Don Bosco