Sunday, August 6, 2017

TOY MYSTERY _____ Introducing our new mystery gamebook series for young readers, you choose what happens in the story


Current status: This ebook will be available for pre-order this coming week. All major ebook platforms. Release date is October 20, 2017. Price: $1.99 USD. Excerpt at the end of this blog post.

The Secret of the Chatter Blocks
Toy Mystery series, Book 1
by Don Bosco

This is a short TOY MYSTERY gamebook for young readers. You choose what happens. Kei and Will are students at the School of Amusement Arts in New Toy-ko City. They help Professor Felicity Nora investigate unusual cases involving toys and puzzles. A rare set of Chatter Blocks has been stolen. These Blocks talk when you roll them like dice. Help Kei and Will catch the thief and recover the Blocks. But careful, the Perplexity Gang is involved!

There are a few different endings. See if you can help the characters solve the case, catch the thief, and learn the secret of the Chatter Blocks.

This gamebook has been designed for younger readers, ages 8 to 12. It can be read alone, in a group, or for bedtime reading. It introduces young readers to the interactive fiction genre.




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What's new: I've written this quirky mystery story for kids. With an interactive twist. It's a chapter book kind of reading experience. Short, thrilling, funny, and easy to read. Nice for reluctant readers. But along the way, you also get to choose how the story develops. Should the characters go forward, or turn back? Should they interview this suspect, or look for clues around the neighbourhood? And when you reach an ending — there are a few possible ones — you're invited to start again and explore other ways to unfold the story.

In short, this is what one might call a gamebook. An interactive story. Hypertext fiction.

I used to be involved in running local maker events for kids, like the HacKIDemia workshops. We had fun stations to let kids experiment with coding, interactive storytelling, game and toy design, and so on. This Toy Mystery gamebook gives me a chance to bring all those ideas together into one cool creative maker project of my own. And it's something that I'd encourage young readers to create too.

The word count is slightly over 5,000 words. If you complete all the possible story threads, that would add up to around 8,000 words. I didn't make this too long, or more difficult, because it's designed for younger readers, and I'd like them to have a sense of ease and fun as they navigate the different story threads and create a mental map of all the possibilities. This format actually makes kids more attentive as they read, because they have to keep making decisions. It also develops their story literacy as they observe how different plots are structured.

The tools I used to make this were: notebook and pen, Twine software for prototyping, Scrivener for writing and editing, 8bit Painter mobile app for creating the cover illustration, Canva for designing the cover layout, Preview for slight colour correction, and LibreOffice for creating the final Epub source file.

You can make your own story gamebook too. It's a really fun experience, especially if you're collaborating with kids on this. (I worked on Toy Mystery with my two sons.) I'll be posting some articles about my development experience going from raw idea to digital gamebook, and I'll include tips and guides, so come back again in a week or two.

Do get in touch if you have suggestions or comments or questions, whether about this Toy Mystery gamebook, or interactive storytelling in general.

***

And here's a short preview PDF below. I should highlight that this gamebook is only available in EPUB format, from the main ebook platforms. This excerpt's PDF layout has been designed just for preview here.

Download PDF from Google Drive here
Open this in your PDF viewer and the story links will work 

Or read the excerpt below:













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MY BLADE QUEST series by Don Bosco









Friday, July 14, 2017

SUPER COOL BOOKS CATALOGUE 2017 _____ Here's a list of our available books and other publishing projects


These are the paperbacks listed below.

NOTE: We aren’t able to take direct orders, sorry. Do buy from your local bookstores, or through online retailers.


_____ WITH MARSHALL CAVENDISH

LION CITY ADVENTURES series by Don Bosco
Book 1: Lion City Adventures
Book 2: Secrets of the Heartlands
Book 3: Island of Legends

SUPERKICKS series by Don Bosco and Benedict Boo
Book 1: Time to Play
Book 2: Best Shot

SHERLOCK HONG ADVENTURES series by Don Bosco
Book 1: The Immortal Nightingale
Book 2: The Peranakan Princess
Book 3: The Scroll of Greatness
Book 4: The Legend of Lady Yue

Magicienne by Ning Cai and Don Bosco

Imagine All This: How to Write Your Own Stories by Don Bosco


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_____ WITH ARMOUR PUBLISHING

MY BLADE QUEST series by Don Bosco
Book 1: A New Game
Book 2: Second Shot
Book 3: Sudden Threat (end-2017)
Book 4: Hot Pursuit (end-2017)
Book 5: Close Call (early-2018)
Book 6: Showdown (early-2018)


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_____ SUPER COOL BOOKS EDUCATION EDITIONS
(Distributed by Select Books)

Diary of Young Justice Bao by Don Bosco
Ghostly: Save Your School by Don Bosco
The Immortal Nightingale by Don Bosco
The Peranakan Princess by Don Bosco


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_____ WITH TUSITALA BOOKS

Super Cool Books by Don Bosco iPad app
Exclusive ebookstore contains digital editions like the TIME TALISMAN series, Secret Engines: Studio Journal, Captain Cardboard, Thor the Greatest, and more.


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_____ STORYMAKERS LAB
Our story education and outreach projects. Links here.









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Sign up for my PASSIONATE PEN kidlit writing workshop
9 Sept 2017, Saturday, 9am – 6pm
Organised by Armour Publishing
Early bird ticket pricing ends 31 July 2017









Monday, July 3, 2017

SUPER COOL BOOKS iPAD APP _____ Yes, we have a digital library of exclusive kidlit editions and creative journals for the iPad, created just because some fans are so enthusiastic


Hello! Look at this photo above and notice:

The cake!


You're looking at the official Super Cool Books celebration cake here. Bet you didn't know we had one. It looks so good because the design is based on the icon for our iPad app. Which features our logo. Rather prominently. And yes, this cake is awesomely yummy. Fun fact: it was created by the nice people at White Ombre.

Also notice: the people in the photo!

Oooh, this is the awesome app development team from Tusitala Books. They made this official app of ours. They actually started work on the first version of this back in 2013. That's how long our app has been around. You can check out photos from that modest launch party here.


And now notice: the Super Cool Books iPad app!

Which is actually the star attraction of this post. This app is like a virtual bookstore. It contains a selection of our ebook editions and creative journals created specially for this package. There are stories for children, like the Time Talisman series, Diary of Young Justice Bao, and more. Some young adult short fiction, like the early Eastern Zombie Society stories. And also compilations of my studio journals for projects that are still in development, like the Secret Engines comic book. You can check out all these and get a good sense of how our ideas are turned into stories and finally packaged as books.

App features:

- Free sample titles: enjoy complete stories
- Buy individual titles to add to your library
- Large type and generous white space makes for easy and fun reading
- Bookmark pages so you can come back later
- Personalise the app with your own photos
- Recommended Ages: 8 to 12+
- Suitable for girls and boys

Download the Super Cool Books iPad app here. It's yummy fun for your imagination! Note: The stories are available as in-app purchases.

Also: watch out for another new digital story product from us, coming later this year.









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Thursday, June 29, 2017

SCBWI SG _____ How to raise curious and creative children + using story books to inspire your young readers at home


Bright ideas coming out of my head!

This Saturday I'll be at the National Gallery for their Parents & Educators Forum: Curious Children Now, Creative Thinkers for the Future. Details and link below. I think a good childhood really packs in all sorts of opportunities to ask questions, create, and share one's talents. Parents play such an important role in making this happen. You'll see your kids develop the confidence to be expressive, and they grow comfortable sharing their awesomeness with the world. If you scroll further down below, just past the event information, you'll also find some links to our earlier blog posts that help you use storytelling and story writing activities at home. Do say hi at the reception, if you're there on Saturday!

— D


The event details, all on one page

From the National Gallery website:

Children who are curious tend to be self-motivated learners and open to new experiences. These qualities are fundamental to the development of critical thinking skills later in life. This forum delves into the role of museums in cultivating curiosity in children, and equips parents and educators with techniques to engage children through art.

Admission is free but registration is required at http://nationalgalleryeduforum.peatix.com.

Programme Details:

01 Jul 2017 
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM 

City Hall Wing, Level B1, The Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium





Notes for parents, about developing story skills at home:

1. Budding Writers Project story writing tips
This is a series of free articles I created to promote the Budding Writers Project by Marshall Cavendish Education. Through these easy creative writing exercises, you'll learn how to develop exciting Characters, describe wonderful locations, and also expand your imagination.

http://www.supercoolbooks.com/2015/05/budding-writers-tip-1-how-to-create.html


2. Lion City Advenures Fan Club Special
Here's another set of free articles I created for parents, covering everything from how to enjoy fairy tales, to why children need books that inspire them to dream bigger, to the importance of funny stories.

http://www.supercoolbooks.com/2016/09/lion-city-adventures-how-to-turn-simple.html


3. How kids can write and make their own story books
Presenting an interview with very young author Nela, who explains how she wrote and created her own fantasy book. All children should get to try this at least once!

http://www.supercoolbooks.com/2017/06/100-writers-learn-from-young-author.html


4. Family time: Let's read!
Easy ideas for happy moments at home as you bond over a story book, whether you have 15 minutes or an hour.

http://www.supercoolbooks.com/2013/04/parenting-grab-book-and-enjoy.html







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See photos from the fun launch event at this year's Asian Festival of Children's Content. Published by Armour Publishing.