Monday, May 26, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Melanie Lee, the very real author of Imaginary Friends, is a friend I got reconnected to recently. Til then, she was mostly logged in my memory as the super-multi-tasking intern who impressed the boss at my workplace with her ability to work on several writing assignments simultaneously and still churn out great work.

Photo by NH Tan

When we caught up again, Melanie still impressed with her fortitude and happy attitude towards life and her witty, ironical writing style. Some of the notable entries on her blog are the ones she did under the Blogging from A to Z challenges in the last three years, including haikus for this year's challenge. Two of these collections were published, including Imaginary Friends

When Melanie asked if I'd like to join the writing process blog tour, I said "Yes!" and here are my answers to the questions.

1) What am I working on?
I recently completed a magazine interview with three socialites who are starting a social enterprise to mentor mothers, especially single mothers, to be successful entrepreneurs while finding fulfillment at home and in their careers. On a slightly more practical front, I dug up some fun and well-reviewed playgrounds in shopping malls for a Great Singapore Sale supplement on 30 May. So if you want to know the best places to deplete the energy of your bunnies, you know where to look!

2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I love profile stories and I like to think that I try to make them different by bringing out the personality of the person I'm writing about in a vivid way. On my blog, I try to inject ironic humour in the everyday things we do as a family and in my own personal growth journey as a wife, mother and individual.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I was terrified that I'd become a tiger mum that obsessively ferries her children from one enrichment class to another, sorts out laundry according to color or irons underclothes. I mean, you can't have time to mutate if you're trying to meet deadlines, right? But seriously, writing has helped me to be a better mum as I connect with other people and learn more about the world around me. 

4) How does my writing process work?
Intros to me are very important. I can spend ages refining intros, but once that feels right, the rest of the story comes together very quickly.

Another quirk of mine: I must munch on something whenever I'm writing.  This mindless conveying of morsels to my mouth while lost in thought or typing has resulted in low-fat yoghurt and fruits replacing chips as snacks…. until I discovered Jagabee's seaweed flavored ones.

Also blogging about their writing process today are: Debs G, Dorothea Xu and Lyn Lee! 

Do also pop by the pages of the following wonderful ladies in the next few weeks to see what they share! Aida and Genevive are internationally well-known scrapbookers who have worked with renown brands that only pick the best to be on their design teams. Nicole is a beautiful, sweet friend and writer/editor who started an online place that tells the personal and heartfelt stories of people who suffer from mental illness.

AIDA HARON  (2 June)

Hello, my name is Aida Haron. Blog hops are common in the crafting industry and through our blogs, we post designing ideas, useful tips or products we use. My current work is a Designer and Educator with the scrapbook store Made With Love Singapore, and am on the Design Team of Sizzix US. Other bits about me are: I prefer to keep life simple, am a wife and a mum, I love to cook when there's time, and we share our home with four cats.

I'm a wife, a mom, a teacher, a do-it-yourselfer, an entrepreneur, a scrapbooker and an autism advocate.  I am obsessed with paper and photos, organising, planning, keeping memories, making lists, making friends and anything related to it, like Instagram, Facebook (don't judge me lol), my filofax and Project Life. 


We all have stories to tell. The Tapestry Project SG is an unfunded initiative that advocates mental health education through the power of the narrative. 

The idea of mental illness is often abstract, institutionalised and highly stigmatised -- factors which discourage the sufferer from seeking early treatment. 

Through the sharing of personal stories, we are reminded of the human aspects of mental illness and the potential for recovery.

The Tapestry Project SG represents an interwoven community that abides by hope and courage. We hope our stories, personal and professional, bring encouragement and insight to the sufferer and those that love them. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Quick & Easy Bespoke Box

I like handmade things because they give a personal touch. But some days, making something original requires creative promptings.

Two weeks ago, Canon sponsored a group of bloggers with Pixma printers each to blog about the creative things we can do with crafty resources at Canon CREATIVE PARK and Canon PIXMA town. I've always wanted a Pixma printer for its printing quality and was quite thrilled with my MG5570 model (although I was also eyeing the fire engine red one another blogger received, but gratitude girl, gratitude).

What can I say, the websites were created to avoid pre-mature life span shortening for procrastinators like me. I had a gift for my mother-in-law but no box to put it in. So I headed to these two websites and found a basic floral box template that I could print, cut and decorate just the way I want it. 

It was super simple. The instructions were clear and the cut-outs well marked with fold lines. The only challenge I faced was the folding of the "petals" so that the top looked like a perfect flower. Obviously, I was no match for the most idiot-proof of visual instructions. The box was hitherto building up well but now threatening to look like origami gone wrong. Suddenly, the paper folds fell into place and a perfect flower was formed. Hooray! 

Meantime, my daughter has found that she can build a whole town out of paper from the Creative Park site. Looks like the Little Ponies will have a new neighbourhood to roam about soon.

Put your gift inside the box

Crease along the dotted lines and fold the "petals" towards the left 

Voila, you get a pretty floral cover for your box

Personalise it your way and it becomes a unique gift!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reading Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends is THE book that initiated me into the e-book world. 

I'm the old-school type who'd rather flip pages than swipe screens. But because Melanie Lee first published this as an e-book, I decided to give the media a try and bought it at Kobo to support my writer-friend whose lively, witty style is always a joy to read.

Plus who can resist the curiosity of reading what our fruits, tea bags, and motorbikes might say and do if they were real?

Each of the 26 stories has a moral that is both funny yet oh so true. There is the yak who tried to stop her husband from yodeling until he survived a hunting attempt ("Don't try to change your spouse into someone he or she is not") and the atas European-made xerox machine who finally learned to work with "cheap" paper sheets when they choked him each time they were fed into the copier ("In today's globalised world, you'd better learn to appreciate diversity").

While I think my 10- and seven-year-old would not have appreciated details about tea bags being boiled alive or octopuses being served up as sashimi, I mostly had thought-provoking moments with the occasional chuckle at clever references to well-known childhood characters such as Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk and Ariel the mermaid weaved into the fables. I had imaginary friends in toys when I was a kid, but never would I have imagined them to be so sophisticatedly human.

So thanks to you, Imaginary Friends, I've re-discovered slices of my childhood and also the convenience of having several good reads all packed into one device without the bulk. Now stop kidding around and get along with your bohemian travel neighbours in the Kobo Library, please.

Imaginary Friends is now available in paperback at MPH, Books Kinokuniya and Books Actually. Its electronic version can be found on and Meet author Melanie Lee and the print edition's illustrator Arif Rafhan at the book launch on Wednesday, 7 May, 7.30pm at Books Actually, № 9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168645.