I chaired MPH's Writer's Circle yesterday. The topic was Writing Fiction, but there turned out to be only one speaker.
Lim May Zhee is one determined young lady. She has written and self-published her first novel, Vanitee Bee, which might best be described as chic-lit for teens. Despite being just 16 years old (15 when she wrote the book) she talked and fielded questions from the floor with a maturity beyond her years. And there was a lesson for us all in her experience - if you believe in your book and want to get it out - just go ahead and self-publish.
We were most amused to learn that May Zhee didn't even tell her parents about her project until the book was published. She raised the money she needed by herself. She says she realised that she needed a copy editor and took the manuscript to Silverfish for vetting. Then proofread it carefully again herself, and then sent it to the printer who also designed the cover for her.
She approached MPH's marketing department and they agreed to distribute the book for her, but then her dad had to be called in to sign the contract on her behalf since she was underage!
May Zhee hopes to make a career in writing. I'm pretty sure she will manage to do pretty much what she sets her heart on, she's such a self-starter.
My only (teacherly) advice to May Zhee is that she really should begin to read much more widely - even if she loves chic-lit. She hopes to read literature at university and will need a strong foundation. I listed links to some good sites with lists on teen-reads the other day, and that's probably as good a starting point as any.
Managing the Q&A turned out to be a bit of an ordeal. One gentleman was problematic and started to hog the whole discussion, not giving others a chance - particularly the shier members of the group whom I wanted to coax out rather more. I hope I didn't upset him too much when I had to tell him that his question was irrelevant - but I had to take charge of a situation that was becoming increasingly difficult. (I know the guy in question is burning with the desire to get his books into print, but he does need to think about how other people are feeling ... and not be so ... kiasu. The best way out of his dilemma is actually to pluck up the courage to send out his manuscripts to editors and get professional feedback.)
How nice it was that this guy came along. Recognise him? 'Tis The Great Swifty aka Edmund Yeo, who has been a blog-friend for some time.
I was rather stressed after the session and went to Delicious for a while with David Byck to have something to eat. When I had recovered it was time to head for town for Lydia's booklauch for Honk If You're Malaysian.
I drove through the Saturday jams to reach the hotel ... just a little after time ... only to find it was the wrong hotel. It was supposed to be at the Crowne Plaza and I was at the Crowne Princess. What kinds of idiots gives a hotel a name which is bound to get confused with another? (What kind of idiot doesn't read the invite carefully enough?). More stress.
(Lydia, once again am very sorry ... and glad that the event went so well for you.)
At least a nice tea at Animah's with friends and a good gossip made me feel better.
More rushing about today. Mong-Lan's reading is at Indie Scene Cafe this afternoon at 5. Will maybe see you there!
Swifty filmed Writer's Circle! I hate to see myself on film so I won't watch it.
May Zhee also blogged it. She thinks I look like a book!