Monday, June 20, 2016

Holidays are for reading!

There's now a national effort made to promote reading and I must say, it comes as a very nice surprise. For far too long, the focus at home and schools has been skewed towards academic success at the expense of everything else and reading (not guide books or anything academic-related) has been pushed to the back burner. It's about time we recognise that reading as a habit brings about intrinsic, long-term benefits. While ideally, it shouldn't take a national campaign to "force" us to read, we all know that in Singapore, it always helps the cause when the government endorses something.

For Lesley-Anne, I'm thankful that reading has become a deeply entrenched habit, so it's not something I need to remind her to do. Last week, she was attending our church camp and during the free time, she spent it reading Sophie's World. Her friend commented, "only you will bring a book to church camp." Keke.

Andre needs a little more cajoling but I'm happy to say that he did get sufficiently interested in a series of books he borrowed from the library these June holidays, to spend a little time reading. Just in case you're wondering, the series is Taken by Erin Bowman.

Admittedly, he spent more time building his Lego, but hey, I'm always happy for small blessings! Yes, it's Andre's 'O' level year but I do believe that school holidays should have some protected time for leisure. (And I prefer Lego over phone gaming any time). I also know that Andre is 15 going on 16, but as he told me, "The box did say '7 and up'."

Since we're on the topic of reading, coming up in the next few weeks is Read! Fest 2016 organised by the National Library Board. I will be participating in two panel sessions:

1) Adventures in Parenthood: Penning the Agony and the Ecstasy! With me will be two other writers of "parenting" books. I use parenting in inverted commas because the books we wrote aren't really about parenting per se, more like our misadventures in parenting!

2) Immediately following that is another panel Publishing Adventures: It’s All in the Family! Lesley-Anne will be joining me in this panel and we'll be talking about our experiences writing together as mother and daughter.

So if you'd like to meet us, please do join in the sessions! Details below:

Date: Saturday, 2 July 2016
Time: 2-3pm (first session), 3.30-4.30pm (second session)
Venue: Bishan Public Library (Programme Zone)

Attendance is free but you'll need to register. Click on the above links to do the registration.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the school holidays and remember, read, read, read!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Telling stories, one at a time

Recently, a friend of Lesley-Anne's asked her how many books she has written. She did a count and said (much to her own surprise), "I'm writing number 11 now." We usually just have the mentality of getting the next book out, so we never quite realised it was that many!

Yes, it's now officially 11 because we finally put to bed the manuscript for the last book (#5) of the Danger Dan and Gadget Girl series last week. I can't tell you how exhilarated we felt when we finally looked at each other and said, "it's done!"

It's a major milestone because when we first decided we would embark on yet another book series at the end of last year, the task felt monumental. Writing a book is tiring. Writing a series is EXHAUSTING (especially when you have a ton of other things to do). Plus we had targeted to finish writing all five books in the series before Lesley-Anne entered university this year, so it's akin to a book a month. Meeting that sort of timeline requires stamina, discipline and patience.

But we did it! And it's not just about finishing the manuscripts - we're honestly so very pleased with how the stories have come together. We set out to write a dystopian series for kids with humour, and I think we've succeeded on all fronts. On the surface, the series is fun and funny, but we hope that kids will also gain from and question the deeper underlying issues we cover on technology usage, science, the environment and societal values. 

It will be more than a year from now before the last book of the series hits the shelves, and there's a lot more of the process (illustrations, editing, etc) to go through but for us, the most difficult part is done. I'm especially proud of Lesley-Anne. She really got into the groove in this series. In fact, when we were writing Book 4, at one point, I was so uninspired that I became like a whiny teenager. She, on the other hand, would diligently write as much as 3,000 words in a day and then calmly tell me, "it's okay. Just fill in what you can." Talk about role reversal! I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to embark on this project with her.

Because I'm feeling particularly happy, I'm sharing a sneak peek of the cover of our next release, #2 The Watery Wipeout here today. Tadah! Doesn't it look fantastic? We're in love with our illustrator, Elvin's drawings! They're so dramatic and vibrant.

The book will be released next month. Stay tuned for details! As always, you can buy our books from Kino, Popular or online from Epigram Books or Closetful of Books.

Meanwhile, last Saturday, we were at Resorts World Sentosa as part of their Imagine Native event. Most of the kids who attend the event are pretty young, so we decided to have a story-telling session instead of our usual workshop. And since both Lesley-Anne and I are not exactly great with handling young kids, the task fell on Winston, marketing manager at Epigram Books.

Winston turned out to be a real natural and stole the kids' hearts. Here's one eager volunteer pinning Melody's hairclip onto Winston.

He even brought props! Lion mask and rubber chicken, no less. Andre got his five seconds of fame as a lion.

 Meeting the fans after.

We love being part of this team!

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