Friday, January 29, 2016

100 WRITERS _____ How some things that seemed impossible became possible + what to do now

NOTE: Here’s my first post this year about the 100 WRITERS project. What is it? And how has it grown?

Last year was crazy. After running Super Cool Books as an indie publishing startup for three years, we ended up launching six titles with publisher Marshall Cavendish International (Asia): the two LION CITY ADVENTURES books (one of which won two publishing awards last year) and the four SHERLOCK HONG ADVENTURES books. (Click on the links to find out more.)

Lots of people wanted to know: how did this happen? And how can they do something similar? I seriously tried to share what I knew, until it got overwhelming. And so: 100 WRITERS.

It's like a support group. I create and share free publishing resources for anyone interested in putting out your own fiction. I also run an email help desk for DIY publishing.

The first 100 WRITERS x StoryCode Singapore session.

Plus, we have a collaboration with the StoryCode Singapore meetup group, where we bring writers and story developers together for story-hacking and transmedia workshops. (Read about our first 100 WRITERS x StoryCode Singapore session here.)

If you’re a writer yourself, and you’d like to find out more, start with this post here. You’ll find two useful downloads:

The Official 100 WRITERS Story Workbook, which helps you craft strong story concepts very quickly, so that you can develop your creative skills and come up with stories that are worth writing. It’s exactly the same process that I use for my own books.

Keep Calm and Upload E-books, a beginner’s guide to producing your own e-books and promoting them on social media. Again, this is how I do it too.

I’m already working on some new resources to expand this toolkit. All inspired by the feedback I’ve been getting. Thanks for your emails, thanks for chatting with me, thanks for joining us. Always keep writing what you love.


I’ve made many new writing friends since starting 100 WRITERS. Like the team behind SWAG, a new website for writers in Singapore.

SWAG has a good calendar of local events related to writing and publishing. This is mostly put together by Jo Furniss and S. Mickey Lin. They’re part of the Singapore Writers Group, an active meetup community.

Every quarter, there’ll be a new set of articles and original fiction pieces, by writers based in Singapore. For the launch edition, they had short stories by Alice Clark-Platts, Elaine Chiew and Kehinde Fadipe. They also featured Clarissa N Goenawan, Marc Heal, Rosie Milne, Verena Tay and Irene Slegt.

And me.

I talked about writing stories for a living, how to publish stories yourself, how to grow your audience, and so on. You can read the full article here.

In case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here are some of the semi-profound things I said, nicely formatted for you to share on Instagram and Facebook.


Okay, let's take a short break so you can share the quotes with your friends.


Also part of my 100 WRITERS outreach: I’m doing a short story writing session for this year’s All In! Young Writers Festival, organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore. This week I heard that the session is almost full. Great! I’ll create some notes for the event and share a version of this here.

For more information about the festival, and also an interview I did for the event’s Facebook page, click here.

Here’s a sample comment from the interview, I'm so gung ho about being creative and all that:

Q: What convinced you to pursue a career that had something todo with writing – an event, an opportunity, a book, a friend etc.?

ME: If you follow the global news, one big trend is that we're clearly moving towards a world with pervasive automation. Some experts predict that in five years or so, we'll have an economy driven by intelligent software, artificial intelligence, driverless cars, robot workers, drones, etc. What meaningful work will there be for us human beings? That's a scary question that nobody is able to answer right now. The only thing that these machines can't do is to make authentic art and create emotional experiences that are meaningful and fresh. And that's why I started Super Cool Books, to dream up stories that will help carry us all across the robot age.


Some of you are passionate about writing and drawing comics — Panelgraph is an indie comics publishing collective led by JF Koh. He’s also been organising Singapore’s 24-Hour Comics Day since 2010. And he spoke at the first 100 WRITERS meetup.

Panelgraph puts out a digital compilation of original works four times a year. That’s about 50 to 100 pages of cool graphic storytelling in every issue. They hold regular comics-making sessions, and you can submit your own finished works and story concepts to be featured. Details here.

We’ll be holding a 100 WRITERS x STORYCODE SINGAPORE x PANELGRAPH session this year. A lot of creative power coming together. More information soon.


Last week I bought the first issue of a local fiction zine called Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar. It’s edited by D. M. Jewelle and Joelyn Alexandra. Joelyn’s also a co-organiser of the local National Novel Writing Month group. I’ve introduced her work here and here, as part of the 100 WRITERS community.

Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar is 110 pages and features short stories from the editors as well as writers like Valerie Oliveiro, Esther Soh, Kane Wheatley-Holder, Denise Choong, S. Mickey Lin, Naoko Kensaku, and many more. Plus illustrations from Max Loh. Great to see them so productive. You can buy the zine here.


If you write stories for children, like me, you can check out this series of online lessons and story development exercises I created for the Budding Writers Project last year. It was organised by Marshall Cavendish Education. The four articles cover:

Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

Just follow this link to get started.


Two years ago, I wanted to create a Super Cool Books e-bookstore so that young readers could access all our titles in one place. We worked with Tusitala Books to put out a version for the iPad. The original version is still available on the App Store. You can also meet our app development team here.

We’re actually still trying to improve the e-bookstore. There’s an updated version coming out in the first half of this year, with a new section for teen/young adult titles.

Many writers and publishers have been asking me to include their stories in the app too. In fact, this is the most frequent request that I get through the 100 WRITERS network.

After the new version of the Super Cool Books iPad app is out, we might try to take submissions. Hang in there.


What are you? A bundle of creative awesomeness. Fill your days with good things, hurry, before the stardust fades.

— D

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How did we create the new cover illustrations