Two years in the making, and they’re finally done! We had our first three titles - Guidebook to Nanyang Diplomacy, Coalition of the Savoury Spare Parts, and Final Resting Place - launched during the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2017.
Fast forward to March 2018, the remaining four titles - Kungfu Dough, Terumbu, Unstable Foundations, and We’ll Eat When We’re Done - had their time at the #BuySingLit Festival last weekend, and this was what went down.
We were fortunate to be moderated by May Tan, Director of Literary Arts (Sector Development), National Arts Council. Starting the audience off with a little introduction with what COSH is about, we quickly moved to each of us speaking about our own books.
While the Tiger and I had to run right after the launch (the Tiger had a plane to catch), the event didn’t feel rushed or urgent. Our audience was incredibly supportive, and shared a few insightful questions. One question I loved in particular was from a lady named Helen, who wanted to know our preferred approaches to storytelling.
We probably didn’t have a lot of time to go on, but personally, my approach continues to stem from the want for entertainment and adventure. As Wena Poon said before, “Entertainment is not a frivolous goal.” And neither should reading for fun be seen as a frivolous act.
And that was how we went through with our (and my first) comic launch at the #BuySingLit Festival. Heartfelt thanks to the team behind the #BuySingLit Festival for having us, the National Heritage Board for helping us make this project happen, Kenny for stocking all our books at the festival, and major thanks to Nicholas Lee for the pictures! You can find out more about his works at https://nicklee.exposure.co/.
All seven COSH Studios titles are available in major bookstores across Singapore. You can find out more about COSH Studios and their comics here.
They moved to MINES, then to PWTC, and now, Comic Fiesta is back to KLCC - where I experienced my first CF and my first time on the other side of the booth. One of my favourite experiences with CF was in 2014, where the Valkyries were there for the annual event, as well as Jerry and Ben, who now form the Rolling Ronins with the rest of us.
This time, we came back with a booth - our collaborative’s first.
Boothing, shopping, and hanging out with booth mates and friends aside, here are some of our most memorable moments this year:
Yeah, it was amazing.
However, I do feel that the organizers did a better job with crowd control than the last time CF was held at KLCC. Sure, there were long queues and constant crowds but to be very honest, as a participant, you’re not the only fan of a certain cosplayer or artist - And neither do you have the right to judge who a “real” or “fake” fan is - so good job to the volunteers, but perhaps queue lines can be better managed, especially around cosplayer and artist booths.
Personally, this year’s announcements brought on the most number of reactions, as far as I have experienced. Of course, there were many announcements for separated friends and kids to go to whoever they got split from at the Lost and Found or Information counter. But this year brought about announcements about prohibiting pets (and a wave of laughter through the halls), reports of upskirt photo-taking (curse you, pervert!), and constant reminders for people to keep a lookout of their own belongings (and their companions).
D.M. Jewelle and I ended up scripting a Night Vale fanfic excerpt thanks to the announcements:
The Night Vale Lost and Found, lose something you never knew you had, and find something you never knew you were supposed to find.
Like most conventions we headed to, nothing could make the event better than the presence of the geeks, fandom members, and booth customers. It was, again, great to speak to regulars, other booth owners, and people who were going to Comic Fiesta for the first time. Also, with Sarah Coldheart in the crowd, you know there’s bound to be something more than just transactional business happening. That being said...
Remember the “CF Make It Rain” gif of 2014? There’s now this:
Conventions cannot be conventions without convention food - but since the Ronins came together, our convention trips have been nothing but a barrage of food. Ben revealed his platinum pick of roast meat somewhere in Pudu, the Tiger finally brought my to Fluffed, and we tried Din (by Din Tai Fung), so that Sarah can have a taste of halal Xiaolongbao straight from the bamboo basket.
So even if we did umm… earn some cash, most of it was, you can say, returned to the economy via amazing food. LOL.
P/S - For those curious about the incident that happened at the closing of the event, I’m going to not say more than the fact that it happened after our friends and I left the hall before it happened. There have been loads of speculation but I’m going to wait for Comic Fiesta’s official statement instead.
Thank you all, once again, for all your support for our stories and art. For more information, check out our Facebook page here. You can also catch a video glimpse of how Comic Fiesta went for our friends via Sarah Coldheart's video here.
Sometimes, I do feel that a lot of us plan our lives in November around two things - Nanowrimo, and the Singapore Writers’ Festival. This year’s theme was ARAM அறம், which talks about virtue and values, with Speculative Fiction and Sequential Art tracks. Needless to say, I was thrilled.
This year also boasted a good number of local and international writers coming, and to contain my excitement, I’m going to sum this event down to the 5 lessons I’ve learnt this year (In no particular order):
1. “You are the creative one, WORK AROUND IT.”
Growing up, I was idealistic (still am to some point) and thought that I still had a right to create whatever I wanted without consequences, since the state wanted us to create more anyway.
But a good number of years in the industry and speaking to veterans made me sure of one thing - if you take someone else’s money, you’re going to have to play to their tune, at least to a certain extent. And that’s where the struggle between the integrity of the work and agendas come to play.
This advice of “working around censorship requests” came from Aidli “Alin” Mosbit, during a panel about “true” artists and if they should seek state funding. And the more I listen to this phrase, the more it makes sense - you need your grant money, but you want to keep the integrity of your work.
No one knows how to balance and present your work better than you do - you are the creative after all.
2. Your friends and family are your supporters - appreciate them.
Need I say more? I was incredibly humbled and thankful to all our friends and readers who came to support us during the Pulp Toast and COSH Studios launches. It was also incredibly humbling to meet other writers who were just so authentically enthusiastic to meet readers, alike. If anything, the festival served as a channel for all of us to appreciate the writers, artists, and storytellers who brought our stories to us, and for us creators to be grateful for all the support we receive - regardless of how much.
P/S - Readers and supporters are not there for you to exploit either. If you consider a fan a “true fan” only after they offer you their soul and buy 5 copies of the same book, your complaints about how Singaporeans don’t support each other is moot (the accuracy of that complaint is another story).
3. People are interested, especially when you have a direction.
One of the more prominent questions we’ve been getting during our launches is the direction of our collectives, collaboratives, or just us as creators. And that drives another message home - as creators, artists, storytellers, we have a responsibility to work with the system if you want to get something out of it. The ‘general public’ may not be the best when it comes to knowing what’s “Art”, but they’re generally good at sniffing out interesting stories and authenticity when it comes to fictional accounts.
4. Have fun writing.
One of the greatest lessons I gleaned from the panel with Marie Lu was how much she enjoyed creating the characters and stories. And that was also when I got reminded about how I went into telling stories in the first place - it’s fun. Seeing Marie’s enthusiasm about her characters balanced out with interesting (but not convenient / fan-servicey) plot lines definitely fuelled me to write more that weekend.
5. There’s nothing wrong with being “just the reader”.
“I don’t have a problem with having ‘not-enough’ writers.” Junot Diaz, 2017.
In his lecture about Hope in a live Dystopia, Junot talked about how we were a society of many writers, but without enough readers. Or at least readers who do it because they loved to read and nothing else. And that point struck me quite a bit.
Reading as a reader, reading as a writer, an editor, or a researcher, changes your entire perspective and state of mind when you settle down with a book.
And that’s what I have for you this year - looking forward to next year’s line of activities, together with all the other stories and adventures that come with it. For more information about the Singapore Writers’ Festival, click here.
If anything, our launch started with quite a cliche. It had been raining like crazy over the last few days, and this evening was no exception. Despite the rain, and the rather odd timing, we managed to pull in quite a decent crowd at the Singapore Writers' Festival 2017.
But instead of reviewing the event, I’m going to talk about the most memorable moments during the launch itself.
We had an amazing Q&A session, answering questions about inserting our culture into our stories, and marketing independent publications to the public. With a rather close audience, the launch became more like a group discussion about the zines instead of an ‘official’ launch.
To tie into the theme of the issue, Wayne “backstabbed” his friend, Chris, to show everyone that he was the chosen one - the one who will be the vessel for any being that will come and save the world. That didn’t work, but it definitely garnered a few laughs throughout.
It was unfortunate that our guest artist, Ziqun A.K., was unable to join us during the launch. Regardless, his artwork brought this issue to the next level. We got a chance to show the artwork to the audience and I’m still glad the audience enjoyed them.
Thank you all, once again, for all your support for our stories and art. For more information, and to check out video snippets of the event, check out our Facebook page here, or website here. Photographs from Sarah Coldheart.
My first step to this launch started with a simple email from Cyril Wong. He had seen my story published on Junoesq, an online journal of women’s fiction, and wanted to include it in the third volume of Epigram’s Best New Singaporean Short Stories series.
So I said yes and everything unravelled.
Fast forward a couple of years. A publishing contract, and a proof check later, we all gathered at the main Kinokuniya Store to celebrate the launch of the collection.
Featuring Series Editor Jason Lundberg and Guest Editor Cyril Wong, both of them spoke about the challenges of compiling an anthology of existing works. This was before the event moved to the featured authors, Melissa de Silva, Nuraliah Norasid, and Clara Chow. Each of them spoke about the motivation behind their stories and gave us readings, but my favourite for the day had to be Clara’s story - “Want Less”.
A combination of short story and choose-your-own-adventure, read it to find out why it’s so compelling. (Also, I'm a fan of RPGs and Minimalism so... your mileage may vary. I still love it, though.)
For more information on the Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volume 3, click here.
Imagine getting stuck out in the desert, with only you steed by your side and you’re utterly lost. Or imagine your twin, the one who shared a womb, a life before adulthood with you, going back on a promise you made as children of the Prophet.
Now imagine all of this happening in another universe - one where cities are plagued with tense relations and beasts beyond this world. Can you? JY Yang did.
In the depths of Singapore’s Main Kinokuniya, they* launched their first two novellas of the Tensorate series - The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Red Threads of Fortune. Both books are published by Tor.
Starting with a reading from “Black Tides of Heaven”, they threw us straight into the world where twins Mokoya and Akeha reside, chock full of mystical elements, settings that reminded me of a cross between the old Tiong Bahru and Jakku, and a random Hokkien expletive thrown in here and there. Moderator Kirsten Han was there to act as our other guide, raising questions as a reader, and to start discussion among the rest of us.
All in all, it was a cozy launch, as J shared their experience writing, editing, and coming up with the concept of the Tensorate series (together with a bit of their life before writing!). As concise as the launch was, I definitely enjoyed myself.
Now, please excuse me while I continue with the rest of the novellas.
*JY Yang identifies as non-binary and therefore, uses pronouns their, they, or them, and salutation, Mx. Find out more about their work at jyyang.com.
Most book launches involve author introductions, conversations, a reading or two, before concluding with either a signing or a Question & Answer (Q&A) session. In all honesty, you’d be hard-pressed to find any of these aspects in a Global Beards launch.
The crowd at BooksActually was small but select – there and ready to fully-engage in whatever activities the duo had planned for everyone. There was laughter, mottos, taglines, and hilariously awkward “words from our sponsors” peppered through the session.
And in between those activities, a launch did happen – when Global Beards got us to create a new Yellow Princess comic with them.
So three characters, three cats, three panels, and countless puns and chants later, a new three-panel comic emerged from the depths of the bookstore. You may be able to see their final panel during your next trip to BooksActually =).
Global Beards is writer-artist duo Wayne Ree and Gene Whitlock. Commonly known as the creators of the Yellow Princess comic, they create comics to promote the fun in storytelling. Find out more about them and their works here.
In conjunction with the Imaginarium exhibition, Epigram Books and SAM@8Q gathered a bunch of us kids (Sarah and I included. LOL.) for the launch of a new series by Peter Tan (a.k.a. Tan Tarn How) – the Sengkang Snoopers.
Going on what seemed to be a fun-filled outing to Pulau Ubin, friends Zizi, Bus, SuLin, and her younger brother SuYang stumble upon an operation that may turn their adventure into something more sinister. This middle grade series by Peter Tan (more popularly known as Tan Tarn How) brings these kids on a journey of fun, adventure, and growing up – think Bookworm Club meets Legends of the Hidden Temple, somewhat.
The launch started with a game for the kids present to get to know each other and win a few prizes - an opportunity which presented itself repeatedly through the event. In between games, Peter Tan also indulged all of us with a couple of readings. It was a great tactic to keep the kids a glimpse into the world of the Snoopers.
They closed the event with a lucky draw, where Sarah and I (Thanks, Sarah Luck) won one of the copies of Sengkang Snoopers up for grabs. It’s now with Sarah so I’m looking forward to having this exciting read soon.
Overall, it was a different kind of book launch – one which we thought engaged its audience well and definitely brought in a good lot of excitement. There was a tremendous amount of energy in that room and the hosts, together with Uncle Peter, did well to manage the whole event.
Many thanks to Epigram for the invite, and SAM@8Q for hosting the event. Sengkang Snoopers: The Mystery of the Hermit’s Hut (Book 1) was written by Peter Tan, illustrated by Billy Yong, and published by Epigram Books. To find out more about the book, click here.
I didn’t get the chance to play through this year’s International Tabletop Day thanks to #nippleSG (look it up on Twitter, you won’t be disappointed). Instead, I’m going to celebrate this year’s belated International Tabletop Day by listing the five best board games I’ve played since last International Tabletop Day.
In no order of preference:
I always thought Five Tribes was a complicated game with too many mechanics and rules to keep in mind. My friend, Eisu, and Tabletop proved me wrong.
Five Tribes is a worker placement, German-style board game with a Mancala (or for us in Southeast Asia, Congkok) mechanic. The Sultan in the land of Five Tribes has passed away and it’s up to us to decide who the new ruler should be.
One of the best features of this game is how it requires you to shift your strategy according to how the table is set – the setup is different and each worker meeple has a different placement with each game. So wanting to collect the most unique resources in one game may not be as viable as collecting Djinnis in the next.
Five Tribes is designed by Bruno Cathala and published by Days of Wonder. To find out more, click here.
(Note: Whims of the Sultan, its latest expansion, should be out. I’m going to be staying tune for more news!)
Dead of Winter: The Long Night
This game was especially fun for two reasons:
Dead of Winter is one of my favourite board games, but when Dave told us that he got the expansion – The Long Night – I knew we had to play it.
Playable on its own or with the original base set, The Long Night brings in two different storylines which fully embrace the circumstances of the board game as compared to the main game. While the previous games perhaps had missions that counted at the start and the end of the game, The Long Night introduces different missions as the days and stages pass.
We played the Raxxon storyline, or what Dave called the ‘Resident Evil’ equivalent. While we did really well on the crisis missions and first two stages (We had a peak morale of 8!), the luck of the draw for the final, special edition zombies did us in.
And I won.
Dead of Winter: The Long Night is designed by Jon Gilmour and Isaac Vega and published by Plaid Hat Games. Find out more about it here.
(Note: Perhaps the designers and publishers were in a rush to release the game, but there are a few typos in the cards (especially the Crossroads cards))
One of the quietest games I’ve played, especially when you head towards the end.
Splendor is a resource management and matching game where you try to become the wealthiest noble in the kingdom.
With limited resources, be the first one to reach 15 wealth among your friends. Watch out though – you’d think that you’ll be able to math your way to success, until you realize that your starting chips are literally limited in number.
Splendor is designed by Marc André and published by Space Cowboys. To find out more, click here.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – Days of Wonder makes games that soothes the organizer in everyone.
As architects and engineers, we’re supposed to purchase different buildings and areas (in the form of tiles) to make the most sustainable, livable city – and gain the most points. Each building tile we use to construct our cities produce certain resources, which need to be made use of properly or result in your city producing excessive waste. Apartments provide manpower, parks clear up industrial waste, ports generate both energy and manpower but are only worth points if you play them in a row, you’ll get the gist. On top of that, certain tiles can only be obtained with certain player tokens and later placed on certain areas of your player mat.
It was a new find for Dave, the Tiger, and myself. Quick to pick up and play, the game is bright, intriguing, and fast-paced enough so that there’s no extended downtime in between player turns.
Quadropolis is designed by François Gandon and published by Days of Wonder. To find out more, click here.
Need I say more?
We first heard of Limpeh Says towards the end of last year, when they launched the Kickstarter to this Singaporean take on Cards Against Humanity. While the latter brought about the most inappropriate answers to the most ‘innocent’ questions, Limpeh Says takes that a level higher with context-heavy insinuations and countless inside jokes.
I bought a custom package, which gave me the opportunity to have my own inside jokes included with my basic deck… so “Sarah, No.” has become an answer card our friends look forward to receiving (and using).
Limpeh Says was created by Tan Yong Heng and Gabriel Leow. To find out more about the game, click here.
And that’s it for this year. I’m looking forward to more games coming my way this year, be it through my friends or Geek & Sundry. I hope all of you have enjoyed this year’s International Tabletop Day and we’ll see you next year!
P/S – While we wait for Titansgrave Season 2 and Tabletop Season 4 to slowly upload on YouTube, do check out the new Geek & Sundry series, ‘Escape’! It’s definitely becoming one of my staples.
Together with the pioneer Pulp Toast core, I was invited to speak at the All In! Young Writers’ Festival over the weekend. While the event was held at National Library Victoria last year, the Book Council (its main organizer) moved the event to a larger location for this year – TreeTop @ SCAPE.
Our first panel was Snackable Fiction, with myself, Mickey, Naoko, and Valerie speaking, and Ganaesh both speaking and moderating.
We spoke about “snackable” fiction, a term which came out while we were working on Pulp Toast, together with our work processes, and tips on submitting work. Despite it being the first panel of the day (at least for our location), we were pleasantly surprised and incredibly grateful for the full house we were presented with.
The Question & Answer (Q & A) session was pretty insightful as well, with really good questions about:
After our panel together, all of us split up to moderate various panels – Valerie moderated a panel about constructing great short stories. Naoko introduced a couple of communication / content managers. And Ganaesh hosted a panel of five writers from around ASEAN. Mickey and I then rounded up everyone's panels with a workshop on Speculative Fiction and the technique we learnt during our time with the Mentor Access Project.
I'll be blogging about the technique, named 'Workshopping', in a post coming later this week.
In summary, Mickey and I spoke about the fundamentals of speculative fiction, its current growth in the region, and avenues to submit stories. What I really appreciated was how we got the participants to write their own stories, with a few volunteers going home with feedback.
Again, we had pretty insightful questions. The one which made me revisit my role as a writer was this:
The obvious answer would be to say "No". Yet, I do find me asking myself the same question as I write my next story.
Regardless, a big thank you to Carlo and the Book Council for inviting all of us as speakers for All In! Young Writers Festival. For more information on All In! Young Writers Festival, click here.