Tea in Pajamas: The Next Wave


It’s been awhile since I posted an update on Tea in Pajamas, or life in general. Truth is, after the back-to-back book readings at West Spring Primary and Booktique earlier this year, I needed to slow down a bit and catch my breath. By around April, all 300 copies of the book’s first print-run in Singapore had sold out (it’s still available off Amazon), and booksellers were asking when a reprint was scheduled—but at the time, some other developments on the job and personal front needed my attention and thus took precedence.

For a period, I anguished about leaving full-time employment, especially over something as random and uncalled for as workplace bullying. But it proved to be as good a reason as any, and besides, opportunities soon came a-knockin’. Finding myself in a now-or-never sort of situation, I shut my eyes and took that proverbial leap of faith.

Long story short, I survived, though it remains to be seen if I will thrive. Nonetheless, I am happy as a clam with my new job(s), which consist of me straddling editorial and consulting work for two local universities and one government agency. Thankfully, I’m able to work from home for the most part, but adapting to this new arrangement has still taken me some time to find my footing. As a result, Tea in Pajamas was left on the backburner for a little bit—at least until I got into the groove of things.

Which is now—nearly four months on, I’m quite ready to revisit Tea in Pajamas. I’ve been extraordinarily blessed in that even though I haven’t been actively hustling, it seems that some people haven’t forgotten entirely about me or my little book. I’d already had it at the back of my mind to contact more schools or organisations for readings, but actually two of them made the first move: the National Arts Council (for Singapore Writer’s Festival 2016); and Holy Innocents Primary School. So that leaves me with my first important task of getting the reprint out.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is: it feels good to be back. And to answer the many children who’ve asked: yes, a sequel is brewing.


Authors Series: Guest Post by Andy Mulberry

About 1 and a half years ago, I did a Q&A with Andy Mulberry, fellow middle-grade author who blogs on the wacky Something Smells Fishy Here! She’s just released her third book in her Skycastle books series, with the fourth fast on its way. Fearless and adventure-loving readers are in for a real treat!

Today, I’m thrilled and honored to have Andy on my little space again. Ever wondered what an author gets up to when she isn’t busy writing stories? Andy, for one, loves taking roadtrips. In this Guest Post, she takes us on her recent jaunt to Southern California. Thank you, Andy, for sharing!

Thank you for having me, Rachel! Grab a cup of tea and put on your jammies, I’ll take you on a journey to, not Belzerac, but to Southern California, by way of snapshots taken with my trusted smartphone. ‘Cause if I’m not writing or reading or taking a nap, I like taking roadtrips along the coast and up to the mountains.

laguna b
Laguna Beach, California
laguna beach tower
Laguna Beach, California

These are snapshots from Laguna Beach, California. A quaint and eclectic town, Laguna Beach is an active artist community with countless art galleries. I like to come here for fish tacos and to watch the surfers do their thing—but even better are the early mornings when the beach is deserted except for the seagulls that try to steal your breakfast croissant.

Those darn seagulls! Always hungry.

I took the below shot while driving to Idyllwild, which is nestled in the San Jacinto mountains. I come here for the tall pines, the cedars and the awesome hiking trails. No seagulls here, but beware the black bears that probably would want you for breakfast, not just your croissant. (Full disclosure: I’ve yet to see a bear during hiking; I’m starting to believe they’re just a myth.)

On my way to Idyllwild, California
View from Runyon Canyon Hiking Trail, Los Angeles, California

While we’re in the midst of winter, I regret to inform that it is currently 67F and sunny here. For someone like me who loves clouds, autumn rain and blustery winds, living in Southern California can be tough indeed. And if you’re ever around, let me know and I’ll buy you a cup of tea 🙂

In the meantime, you can connect with me on Twitter, Goodreads or my blog.

Andy Mulberry writes middle-grade fiction and lives in Southern California with her scowling teenager, a chubby blue cat-beast, an imaginary dog and one leaky roof. Her latest release, the third in a middle-grade series aimed at reluctant readers (boys!), is out now. Ask her for free review copies!

Skycastle Book 3 Cover

Post-publication thoughts

"Into the Woods": chapter artwork from Tea in Pajamas.
“Into the Woods”: chapter artwork from Tea in Pajamas.

“How’s it feel to be published?” more than a few friends have asked, and I realized I didn’t have an answer to that. I’d previously pictured myself clutching a physical copy of Tea in Pajamas dearly to my chest and experiencing extreme jubilation—but now that I’ve had time to slow down and take in the moment, I think that, more than anything else, what I feel is relief. A sort of phew, now that I’ve finally got publication out of the way!

In truth, writing and book production were the easy bits. It was the self-publishing process that was my baptism by fire. Having worked at various traditional publishers for practically all my career, it seemed almost counterintuitive to take this “radical” route of being an independent author. I often asked myself why as well.

Though I knew the ins and outs of book production, I had to learn entirely from scratch the nuts and bolts of self-publishing—as well as find the time to put in the back-breaking work while juggling a full-time job and two young children.

Far too many times I wanted to call it a day and simply shop for a traditional publisher, but then having written a book with strong French themes and continental influences, I also had my work cut out for me. You see, I happen to hail from a tiny island whose majority of readers have a distinct appetite for international bestsellers and whose few publishers have specific interests in works set within the context of Singapore or Southeast Asia. There’s also the race issue: is a born-and-bred Singapore girl the best person to write a European-ish children’s book, and in US spelling to boot?

The more I considered pandering, the less I believed in myself and my story. But Tea in Pajamas had a distinct flavor and character, and to have tailored it in any degree or manner would’ve turned the original book into whole new creature. In the end, I decided to stick to my guns.

I suppose this is where independent publishing comes in: to help authors bridge the gap between their product and readers, especially when a book doesn’t fit nicely into a publisher’s catalog or fall within a literary agent’s list of in-demand genres. Though make no mistake about it, you’ve gotta be prepared to do the work—after all, you’re not just selling your novel but you, i.e. as a person, as an author, as someone who has something to say.

I believe whether traditionally or independently published, quality of content and appearance varies between books. There is no either-or/better-worse; they are simply different—just as the world is a big enough place for both physical paperbacks and ebooks to coexist. If I’d allowed myself to be swayed by certain negative stigmas attached to being self-published, Tea in Pajamas would certainly not have seen the light of day.

Nonetheless, though self-publishing worked for me this time, I’m not saying it’s a model I want to stick to forever. When the right opportunity comes, I still do hope to someday be traditionally published. But between now and then, one thing doesn’t change: success is, for me, ultimately about getting the book into the hands of those who will enjoy the story.

And with that, I thank you, all of you, for sticking it out with me on this bumpy journey. There’ve been good days and bad, but mostly good. And 2015 by all accounts has been magical.

So on this last day of the year, thank you for being a part of the magic. With that, I’m happy to announce that Tea in Pajamas is now also officially available as an e-book via these retailers: Amazon’s Kindle store, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Blio, and Smashwords.

Have a happy new year and a joyous 2016. If you read on, I’ll write on 🙂