Thursday, April 6, 2017

SCBWI SG _____ Australian writer PIP HARRY is now based in Singapore, she says hello and also tells us how she writes and promotes her books

The Singapore chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a very diverse group. We have picture book creators, middle grade authors, young adult novelists, as well as creative enthusiasts who are still feeling their way around and trying to decide on their own unique niche. You can read about our members here and here. And now here's another introduction. This week, I'm delighted to feature established YA author Pip Harry, who has moved over from Australia and is already active in the local writing community. Thanks to fellow member Melanie Lee for setting up this interview. You can contact Pip at the links below, after the interview.

— D



==============
MEET PIP HARRY
==============

Hello! Tell us about yourself! 
I got my start as a writer and editor interviewing celebs for weekly gossip and entertainment magazines in Australia like NW, Woman's Day, New Idea and TV Week. I had a dream to become an author for young people for a long time (it was a long 12 years before I got a publishing deal!) and I've written three contemporary realistic YA novels; I'll Tell You Mine (2012, UQP), Head of the River (2014, UQP) and Because of You (August, 2017, UQP) My writing covers lots of themes but focuses on the ups and downs of family life and friendships.



What inspires you to explore these YA genres / themes?
I write realistic, contemporary fiction because I like being in the here and now with my characters and writing in a gritty, honest style with little sugar coating! I tackle confronting issues in my work such as youth homelessness and poverty, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, family conflict, relationship breakdowns, grief and mental illness, but I always aim to write about these things with sensitivity and lots of research. And for good measure, there's usually a sprinkling of love, new friendships, coming of age and lives being changed for the better.



How have you promoted your YA novels? What methods have worked well for you, what  haven't?
I've found the best method of promotion for my books is word of mouth through the Aussie book blogging community. I've tried hard to get to know the people who are reading and reviewing YA (some of them teens themselves) and have sent books to them, met them in person and engaged in lots of social media chatting. I commissioned a book trailer for Head of the River, which was done by a school student and it was super professional and a good investment. I've had less success with competitions and giveaways, book postcards and trying to break into overseas markets. Talking at schools and youth festivals is always a winner, too, for getting to know my YA audience.


What are some of your rituals or processes for writing novels?
If I'm writing a new WIP I try to sit down to write for a minimum of 500 words a day and I usually write much more than that. But setting a low word count helps to make it seem more manageable. I write my first draft without going back and re-reading, unless for a workshop group. Sometimes I'll take the first draft away for a few days or a week to a 'writing camp' in the bush or beach and turn off wifi and go for it!

When it's finished, I print it out, and take out my red pen. The third draft is usually when I bring in my beta readers. I won't show my publisher until it's as tight and polished as possible.



PIP HARRY ON THE INTERNET
www.pipharry.com
www.twitter.com/piphaz  
www.instagram.com/piphaz/
http://www.uqp.uq.edu.au/Author.aspx/1670/Pip%20Harry







. . . . . . . . . .






IMAGINE ALL THIS: HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN STORIES
by Don Bosco 
Published by Marshall Cavendish











MAGICIENNE
My YA thriller co-authored with 
Ning Cai the celebrity magician and author.
Published by Marshall Cavendish




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

100 WRITERS _____ Meet JOYCE CHUA, she writes stories to help you laugh, cry and understand yourself better, because that's beautiful and gratifying

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

Singapore writer Joyce Chua has a section on her blog titled #CreateYourLife. She interviewed me for this last year, with questions about my writing process, my development as an author and also my creative influences. You can check it out here. All this while she's been really busy herself, because she's found a new way to connect with readers over the internet. She explains this below. Whatever kind of stories you're interested in writing, just read on and you'll be inspired. Thanks, Joyce, for taking the time to share your ideas with us.

— D


==================
MEET JOYCE CHUA
==================

Tell us about yourself and the books you’ve published!
I’m the editor-in-chief of ZCOOP magazine by day and a young adult author by night. After graduating from NUS with a degree in English, I won a nationwide novel-writing competition organised by the National Arts Council. My YA contemporary romance, LAMBS FOR DINNER, was published by Straits Times Press in 2013. I blog about books, writing, and TV shows at www.thewritesofpassage.wordpress.com in between writing my next novel. I can also be found on Facebook, sharing one too many baby videos, and indulging in my obsession with all things pretty on Pinterest and Instagram. I am also the co-founder and contributor of a short story blog called Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, which I run with three other writer friends from across the globe – Rebecca Donahue, Meredith Crosbie, and Nicole Evans. My writing has appeared in commercial publications like Cosmopolitan Singapore, The Straits Times (Urban), and ZCOOP.




Why do you write fiction?
You know how, when you were growing up, some books managed to reach right into you and stay with you for a long time?

How some characters seemed so real and human and relatable you wished you had them as your best friend?

How easily you could identify with the characters, empathise with their problems, and root for them even though they’re not even real people?

How some books made you laugh and weep but ultimately thankful that you got to experience such emotions?

How they moved you and altered you from within irrevocably? Opened your eyes to new things, different things, be they beautiful or ugly? Made you discover something about yourself you never knew?

This is everything books and stories have made me feel. I am forever indebted to the books I read growing up, the stories I ingested – whether it’s through books, TV shows, movies, or even songs and verbally narrated tales. Story characters were not only acquaintances, and stories not just worlds I got to live in for a while; the best stories I've read stayed with me long after I closed the book, and they have all shaped me one way or another. They entertained, they brought me comfort, they made me feel less alone.

To answer the question of why I write, this had to be explained first and foremost. Why I write is because I want to be part of that experience, not just as a taker but as a giver. Quite simply, I want to pay it forward.

I want to make others feel the same way other people's books have made me feel. I want to move them, to connect with them, show them that there are different people with different lives and that is something to be celebrated and understood.

I want readers to find a friend in my characters, to find refuge in the worlds I create, to be able to relate to a scenario or emotion and realise that they aren't alone in their experiences. I want to make them laugh and cry and understand themselves better.

It sounds lofty – and quite ambitious – but essentially I just hope for stories to connect us all as humans, to learn from and learn about one another so that we feel less alone and more empathetic. We give life to stories as writers and readers, but stories also give us life. And there's nothing more beautiful and gratifying to me than being both a reader and a writer.


What’s your role in Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand? 
At the end of 2016, I came up with the idea to set up a short story blog with three other friends – pen pals, if you will – who also write short fiction and novels. Becky, Meredith, and Nicole all agreed with no little amount of enthusiasm, and we’ve been contributing to the blog ever since.

The blog is a way for us to hone our craft, learn from each other, and connect with other writers out there. It’s still in its infancy, so there is a lot more we can explore and implement. We all split the tasks pretty evenly among ourselves – writing, publishing, social media management, and reaching out to other blogs – although I also manage the content calendar and schedule (it’s a job hazard! I’m the editor-in-chief of a digital lifestyle magazine, and this is how we keep track of our posts).




How has working on this contributed to your growth as a writer?
It has definitely made me more disciplined. I’m pretty strict with myself to begin with, but to have to regularly create – and complete! – short stories for such a public platform definitely holds you more accountable to your writing. You don’t want your readers or writing partners to be disappointed!

Managing a blog with three other friends has also taught me how to manage expectations, make creative compromises, and brainstorm productively instead of just throwing out ideas hither and thither.

The good thing about running a project like this with friends is that everyone is honest and forthcoming about their ideas, reservations, and feedback. We don’t hold back, but we’ve never had major conflicts because everyone is on the same page and we have so much love and respect for each other as not just fellow writers but kindred spirits. We just get each other.

Being part of a group like this is essential to a writer’s growth, I feel. It helps you let go of your inhibitions, provides encouragement and support whenever you need it, and holds you accountable to your writing.




JOYCE CHUA'S LINKS

LAMBS FOR DINNER
www.thewritesofpassage.wordpress.com 
Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram
Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand,












. . . . . . . . . .







MAGICIENNE
My YA thriller co-authored with 
Ning Cai the celebrity magician and author.
Published by Marshall Cavendish












IMAGINE ALL THIS: HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN STORIES
by Don Bosco 
Published by Marshall Cavendish









Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SUPERKICKS _____ Proudly presenting Wendy Sing and Eugenia Cheok, the dynamic drawing duo who put some dramatic kapow into the pages of SUPERKICKS Book 1: Time To Play with their nicely eye-catching illustrations



  
Here’s a very special blog feature: an interview with the two young illustrators who created the visuals for our first SUPERKICKS book. Wendy Sing and Eugenia Cheok sure know how to inject excitement into their sketches. You can also learn a thing or two about their creative process here. Their links are at the end of this post, if you’d like to get in touch with them. Also, we just announced Book 2 of the series in this earlier post. Look out for it in a few months! 

— D


Wendy Sing

Eugenia Cheok

====================================

MEET WENDY SING AND EUGENIA CHEOK
====================================


Do tell us about yourself!
Eugenia: Hello! My name is Eugenia and I am an animator and graphic designer, who previously went to the same school as Wendy, Nanyang Polytechnic Digital Media Design, Animation Diploma course. We both participated in the same team to create a film together, and were ex-colleagues before pursuing my further studies in Lasalle for my Bachelor Degree in Design Communication while taking freelance work at the same time!

Wendy: Hi. I am Wendy. I graduated from Macpherson Institute of Technical Education with a Nitec Certificate in Digital Animation. Thereafter I completed a diploma in Digital Media Design (Animation) from Nanyang Polytechnic. I am currently employed as a 2D Character Animator and Storyboard Artist with 2 years experience.


What was your creative process for illustrating Superkicks? 
Wendy: I designed all the characters and the layout. After the design was approved, I started to fill in the details and clean up the lines. Thereafter I added shadings for all the illustrations in the story pages to make them more appealing. To make the story pages look more interesting, I adjusted the angles and perspectives. This gives the book a more dramatic feel.

Eugenia: (Talking about the lovely book cover) Firstly, I laid out the base color and added the shadows. This is called two-tone shading in illustrative terms. When a warm light hits an object, there will be a cool shadow. Secondly, for the background, in a real soccer field it probably would not be a pure green grass, with a tint of brown to indicate soil. Lastly, to give a dramatic effect, white lines were added along the grass to give a sense of speed.


You're very good at perspective drawing. How did you develop this? 
Wendy: I loved to draw since young, especially creating characters from scratch. I would always draw them in dramatic poses that require some perspective knowledge. I probably picked up a little of the skill by reading lots of comics. I would always come up with some storylines and draw them in the form of comic panels. And with the knowledge that the lecturer taught in school, I slowly built my skills from there and got to where I am now.

Eugenia: I only learned about perspective when I attended school in Nanyang Polytechnic, hence, we did a lot of practice by drawing still objects such as cubes. Thereafter learning about the different kinds of perspective there is to know — One-point, Two-point, etc.


What are some tips you have for beginner artists who want to illustrate books too?
Eugenia: Practice is really the key in learning to illustrate. Drawing or painting every day will do wonders to help you improve, so no matter what setbacks, never give up and continue to draw!


Wendy: In order to make the illustrations look good, I think the most important thing is to design the layout of the pages first. So I will suggest that artists sketch out various layouts to see which is the best, before drawing the final lines. The next important thing is the mindset of the artist during the process of illustration. They should always imagine themselves as the characters they draw, to better portray the characters. We should also consider how the readers might feel when they see the illustrations. This will help make the drawings more natural and lively.



Get in touch with them:

https://eugeniacheok.com/

http://www.wendyssh.com/













. . . . . . . . . .










Read about Don Bosco's
LION CITY ADVENTURES 
Fan Club Special
Series published by Marshall Cavendish













Enter the thrilling storyworld of 
SHERLOCK HONG ADVENTURES
published by Marshall Cavendish















Monday, March 27, 2017

SUPERKICKS _____ News about Book 2: BEST SHOT + exciting photo gallery from our current Superkicks School Tour 2017


Hi there, dear readers! It's been quite a while since I posted about our Superkicks series. It's actually been keeping us really busy, here at Super Cool Books.

The big news this week is that my co-author Benedict Boo (read his interview here, if you haven't already) and I are almost finished with writing Book 2. The title for this book is BEST SHOT, and it should be available in stores around the middle of this year. Do look out for it.

Also, Benedict is currently leading the Superkicks School Tour 2017. He visits schools to talk to students about being better athletes, encourage them to read more, and also sign lots of Superkicks paperbacks at each school. Have a look at his photos from the event, below.

Don't you wish you could have joined us there too? Yeah! You can contact us to arrange for a high energy and inspiring school talk, we'd love to see you soon. Just email your request to: studio@supercoolbooks.com, and include SUPERKICKS SCHOOL TOUR in the subject line.

Wishing you lots and lots of wonderful books to read! :)


— D
























. . . . . . . . . .








Read about Don Bosco's
LION CITY ADVENTURES 
Fan Club Special
Series published by Marshall Cavendish












Here's a great mystery series to entertain you 
SHERLOCK HONG ADVENTURES
published by Marshall Cavendish