Category Archives: Authors

Books by Book Merah

Book Merah has primarily published the works of Stephen Black, the exception being Singapore Literature prize winner Cyril Wong.Book Merah is now open to discussions with writers.

Stephen Black's books and stories are often set in Asia, and combine research with storytelling. The links below lead to reviews, descriptions, photos and videos, as well as links to Amazon and Unglue.

I Ate Tiong Bahru

A bestseller in Singapore...
black and white book covers

Bali Wave Ghost

Obama Search Words by Stephen Black

Obama Search Words

Red chairs, and Cyril Wong: the cover of Fires.

Fires, by Cyril Wong

the cover of furikake; a photograph of a dancer on a farm, the title and the author's name, Stephen Black. Also on the cover is a description: short stories about rice seasonings.

Furikake

The word 'Stephen', a rectangle of black and a red dot/
red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

Red Dot SAD

Publishing Magnates
Stephen Black , Book Merah CEO/author , with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.
Book covers of Singapore books
cover by Debbie Ding

Contact With Shadow

Lance, the moose from Secret Donut World, contemplates a skull, ala the poor Yorick scene from Hamlet.

Flame Magnet

Alphabet Spikes

Book covers from books by Book Merah. Authors include Stephen Black and Cyril Wong

Despite having produced one bestseller, Book Merah has done no marketing. Marketing will begin in 2020.

Stephen Black: projects 2002-2019

Stephen Black Author Page on Amazon

Latest news: Bubiko Foodtour, Stephen Black and Novaby at Tech in the Tenderloin

Recent news: AR presentation at the Great Ohio Bike Adventure!

Stephen Black is a music/TV/VR producer, writer, visual artist and entrepreneur who is currently focused on AR, specifically a character called Bubiko Foodtour. Bubiko, a co-production with Sayuri Okayama, is blazing trails and creating networks that will result in new, as-of-now-unpredictable projects, as well as planned projects for the Dundercats, Secret Donut World and the Doughbots. Bubiko is being brought to life in 3D by the magicians at Novaby.

This link emphasizes Stephen's AR activities in 2019, including his presentation at the ARIA event at MIT. (Bubiko's Instagram.)

Involvement with AR and VR began in 2016, with the release of the Oculus. Stephen, with Sayuri Okayama, began a nomadic research tour of Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Shenzhen; the topics being Southeast Asian food and AR/VR startup ideas. Eventually, connections with food and drink producers will result in an online sales channel.

During this journey, called the Bubiko Orwell Tour, Stephen kept notes and began writing for a work in progress book called Alphabet Spikes. Also during this time, Bubiko published an ebook of photographs about Ipoh, Malaysia. Also, Stephen gave presentations about AR at the Sasin School of Business (Bangkok), Hong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong Maker's Faire and at TechCrunch Shenzhen.

Augmented Reality in Asia
article about Stephen Black in Ipoh

Virtual Reality + other movies +

 Beach Road (2015) was written by, and stars, Stephen, who also co-produced with Hiverlab. Featured at VR festivals in Brisbane, Las Vegas and Singapore.

SPOKEN poster

SPOKEN (2011)A downloadable virtual gallery, created by Eugene Soh and curated by Stephen. Features a great variety of artists, from internationally famous to unknown.

Lotus Mountain, shot in Shenzhen, on 8K Obsidian cameras by Kandao. A robot is reunited with her maker, five years after he broke her heart. Featuring a soundtrack by Rei Shimizu and a VR artwork by Scobot. Now in post-production.

10 Bubiko VR Movies for 20K A lighthearted effort to seriously increase the number of non-gaming VR viewers. And yes, the movies can be versioned in 2D also.

Sudden VR Festival (2016) Isetan Department Store. With Lionel Chok, Rachel Jordan, Samuel Chia and others. Chaotic celebration of VR; Singapore's first VR festival.

Norm Black Exhibition (2016) Mettle Art Space. Debut of Beach Road, photo works and thumb-shaped kuehs by Stephen Black, performance by 3how.

Cinematography collaborations with Japanese film legend Kumiko Akiyoshi, including Kiss, Bubu Again and The New york Mystery.

Photography

2018 FIA Drone Championship in Shenzhen

24 hours in the Art World of Singapore

Christmas in Penang

Bus Stopping


Books/Writing

Story about Shenzhen, China's Silicon Valley, for Maker Mag (with photos)

i ate tiong bahru, a bestseller. Ebook, paperback and audio versions available on Amazon. Audio book version feature Mirai Booth-Ong

Bali Wave Ghost on Amazon

Obama Search Words on Amazon

Contact With Shadow

photography as part of book cover design
on Amazon

When I started to write books, I also decided I would do no marketing until I'd written eight books. That time for marketing is here, but at the moment AR comes first. This blog post may interest those who wonder what happens when you don't do marketing. You may be surprised.

Gamemaking

Using the MonjaKids Creative Development Kit, Black taught all ages, including elementary school students, university students and weekend classes at the Singapore Science Center.

The Monja Kids CDK featured about 200 commands, allowing professional gamemakers to creat complex games. However, in the classes, only the basic commands were used.


Art

Text, a few building ideas and some documentation by Black. Collaborations and more with Michael Lee.

Artist in Residence 2015: Grey Projects, Independent Archive

Education

In 2019, Black conducted two workshops and two presentations about AR. In Singapore he taught 3D gamemaking and classes in poetry performance. Black has taught English in Japan. Classes in writing and self-publishing are planned as part of the ARphabet Tour.

Music

Xylophone and organ lessons as a child. In Rochester, photographed and videoed Personal Effects, now Margaret Explosion. In Manhattan, created videos and occasionally performed with Faculty Party.

Unlocking With Ears is a video series about Black's experiences in music.

In Singapore, Black worked frequently with Amith Narayan, musician and head of High on Chai Productions. The two cofounded 3how and co-produced the Riverwalk Session album. 3how was an improvisational music/theatre project that played the Night Festival, the LitUp Festival and the Red Dot Museum. An opera, Big Homer, based on a story by Black was performed. Some of the many talents involved with 3how: Wilson Goh, Justin Bannister, Kala Charan, Dave D'aranjo, Richard Lord and Roman Tarasov .

This resume is outdated, but provides more information.

Birth - 2002

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Stephen received his Associate's Degree at the University of Toledo, then went on to Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photographic Illustration.

He then moved to Brooklyn/Manhattan where he worked at Young Filmakers/Video Arts, was in Faculty Party, an operatic band utilizing theatre, phase patterns and rock. Black participated in the Lower East Side Art scene to the fullest. It was here that he became friends, with, among many people, Toyo Tsuchiya. He interviewed Toyo as part of documentation of the LES, and in particular, the legendary No Se No/Rivington School art scene.

1984: Japan. Art, teaching English, photographing, videoing. Finally met, and became life-long friends with Stelarc. Documented, with photography and video, Kazuo Ono, the co-founder of butoh. An art space with Barae, a performer/dancer. Collaborations of all kinds. Work for Sony, Suntory, ABC News, MTV and Philip Morris. Assisted Annie Liebovitz when she came to Tokyo for a monthlong American Express Shoot. This post is about Black's experiences in the Tokyo music scene. It is part of the Unlocking With Ears series that also talks about Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

In 1994, Black spent the year in Manhattan, working for Fuji TV on the NYGO edutainment series, produced by Cannes award-winning director Toshio Uruta. Writing, producing and directing, Black worked with a number of American and Japanese acting talents, as well as some of New York's funniest comedy writers, including contributors to Saturday Night Live.

1995: Hong Kong. The Handover to China, employed as a promo producer for Cartoon Network and TNT, now called Turner Classic Movies.Art projects continued in the form of exhibitions and Noon, an art space in Black's apartment on Hollywood Road. In 1996 Black traveled to WuTang Shan in China, almost immediately after going to Tokyo to document the Tokyo "tour" of Yamo, a project by Kraftwerk drummer Wolfgang Flür. Black also produced two successful tours by Sadato, a Japan-based band led by Sadato (now Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi), an Iranian sax player/vocalist.

1998- 2001: Tokyo, on air promo producer for News Broadcast Japan, the six channels set up by Fox. Was responsible for hiring, purchasing equipment and co-ordinating with sales and marketing teams.

2001-2002. Tokyo: Exhibitions. Wrote the Agaricus blazei Murrill Notebook, the first book on the gourmet and medicinal mushroom. Also produced and directed Kiss, starring Japanese legendary actress Kumiko Akiyoshi. Pioneering, in that it was one of the first movies on the internet, it received over three million views in its first three months. Later, Black was director of photography on Bubu Again, Akiyoshi's debut as a feature length film director. In 2002, Black moved to Singapore to work as creative director for WalkerAsia/Compudia a visionary gamemaking/user generated content company established by Akihiko Seki.

AR consultants
Poster for Stephen Black's presentations and workshops at Hong Kong PolyU, July 2018
Stephen Black i ate tiong bahru  in Chinese
Augmented Reality Stephen Black in Thailand
poster for Stephen Black's presentation about AR at Sasin School of Business
unicorns in China


My terrible book promotional flyer made me happy

As you may know, I have not yet done any serious marketing--though I do have a bestseller. I believe that books sell because of word of mouth, not advertising. Of course, at some point I will do serious advertising, but that day has not yet come. For now, I am most interested in connecting with readers with a sense of adventure.

What follows is something I greatly enjoy.

Hi Stephen, I am one of the guys taking your leaflet when you were in HK for the book exhibition on the bridge.

One thing I want to mention is, sorry for the frankness.... Your leaflet is lousy😅

These are 2 other leaflets I have acquired while on the bridge, and they are objectively and subjective better.......

1. Your leaflet is in black and white.

2. The text and images are pressed together and too small for normal people to read.

3. And most importantly, I don't know what you want to promote in this leaflet..... There is no focus. Is it "book merah", "Obama search words", or Bali Wave Ghost? I was thinking along these lines when I read the leaflet: "What are these books? Why I would want to read them? And why is there some strange circles drawing overlapping with the images and text in the centre? 😵😵😵"

Hope u can improve on your presentation so more people can read your good book on different cultures and places 👍👍👍

"FANTASTIC," I say! The link to the books which are now on sale/free is here.

More about the HK Book Fair is here.

Publishing Magnates

Stephen Black , Book Merah CEO/author , with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.

Alphabet Spikes P-S (notes from July 2018, Hong Kong)

Alphabet Spikes is a collection of stories, essays and experiments created from February 2017 until now--and in the future! The core of the book is here, on Amazon, but this ebook project is actually something like crowdfunding. Once you buy the book, send me your email and you will get an updated ebook with new stories, as I add them. Right now, the version on Amazon includes stories about a game developer, Antigone Cloud and my brief encounter with Anthony Bourdain. Next will be journal entries from the Bubiko Orwell Tour, which voyaged through Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong. The purpose of the tour was to research food, to create a network of people interested in AR, and two work on two books. Besides the tour journal, there are, and will be, short stories, interviews and essays about Southeast Asia and people, events and places connected to it. Alphabet Spikes: Art and entrepreneurship go on a road trip in Southeast Asia. Lots of eating, a few meetings, and nonstop ups and downs. In reverse alphabetical order, the following are some of my experiences in Hong Kong; these will become stories and essays. Questions? Leave in the comments section, as well as any info you'd like to share. Thanks! The Z-T sections are here. S Searching R Rise Bubiko Foodtour @ Rise. Rooftop gardening @ HK PolyU. Q The footage was taken with a Qoocam, which was part of a demonstration by Kandao at an event at HK PolyU, as part of the Maker Faire event. After a Q and A session with Marco Pierre-White. Other Rise Q and A sessions: Metta World Peace, Brad Smith, and Mike Massimino. I shook Mr. Massimino's hand.

Publishing as a Discourse Marker

From Wikipedia: In Practical English Usage, Michael Swan defines a discourse marker as "a word or expression which shows the connection between what is being said and the wider context". For him, a discourse marker is something that either connects a sentence to what comes before or after, or indicates a speaker's attitude to what he is saying. He gives three examples: on the other hand; frankly; as a matter of fact.[5] Ian McCormick's The Art of Connection[6] outlines nine classes of connectives based on their purpose:

to provide a sense of where something is in relation to something else;

to supply a sense of when something is happening;

to compare two ideas and express similarities;

to contrast ideas English provides many examples to signal the notion of difference;

to present additional or supplementary ideas;

to indicate that a point in a discussion has been conceded or already taken into account;

to demonstrate a sense of logical sequence;

to offer an illustration or an example;

to deliver a summary of the ideas discussed.

McCormick points out that "FANBOYS" is mnemonic to recall co-ordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

5.30 – 7.00pm

Publishing Independently

What is the potential of self-initiated publications as a form of artistic collaboration? What are the benefits and pitfalls of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and how does it contribute to the cultural field? This panel will explore recent developments in self-publishing and what necessitates these forms of independent production.

Speakers:

Ringo Bunoan (Philippines), artist and co-Founder, Art Book Philippines

Savannah Gorton (Germany/Denmark), curator and co-Founder, Friends with Books

Beatrix Pang (Hong Kong), Founder, Small Tune Press

Stephen Black (Around China) artist, writer and Founder Book Merah

Moderated by Shubigi Rao (India/Singapore), artist

Self-published. No marketing. What happens?

Today, for the first time in about two years, I looked at the sales reports for my eight books. Fully expected to see no sales. Zero. No sales would be an expected consequence of doing no marketing and being self-published. Over ten years ago, I made it clear that I would do no marketing until I had written eight books.

So, today was a pleasant surprise.

self-publishing statistics

Stephen Black does no marketing...

My biggest "audience" is in Japan, then the US, then India. Interesting. I have not lived in Japan for quite a while. Have never been to India. Kindle's programs that allow people to sample the book seem to be helping.

Amazon and self-publishing

The number of Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read determines the royalties you earn from KU (Kindle Unlimited) and KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). This graph is updated as pages are read by customers who borrow your book from KU and KOLL.

I am now working on two books. One is a novel ( Antigone.Cloud: Ghost of a Robot), the themes of which are AR, sentient software, Southeast Asia and children. The other, Alphabet Spikes, is a journal; of my entrepreneurial, food-related and art adventures in Southeast Asia. I would be thrilled to find a publisher and or an agent, but if not, that is that.

Some may laugh at the above sales figure, but to me it is encouraging. What will happen when I finally start to do marketing?

Marketing is not easy, but thanks to Amazon, services like Adwords, and social media, things can be very efficient. Within the next three months, I will give away free ebooks, hoping this will lead to spikes in sales. I will start marketing in October.

About my books, here is a post that includes videos.

FWIW, the stats on this blog:

An experiment with Amazon

As for my bestseller, I sold it in bookstores and in certain areas of Singapore. The first edition is almost completely sold out; 2000 copies, which in Singapore qualifies it to be a national bestseller. The print version of i ate tiong bahru is a bestseller in Singapore There is an audiobook version as well.

Seeing things

Last night, an old woman's shaking hand pushed my nose towards fish bones and lemongrass. One of the rats ran over the sparkly shoes of a woman from The Golden Palace. She screamed. The man who sells pens came by, so did the man with the folding rattan chair. I stepped on a hot cigarette butt, caught off balance by the hisses of a male intruder. The friendly man with burnt skin sold perfume from a new duffel bag. The monk walked through and studied everyone, offered his bronze bowl to a few. I listened to happiness, drunkenness, boredom, suspicion, lust and a fight. A barefoot boy snapped his fingers, hit me with a bottle cap. Little radios played Cantonese music all night.

Now I’m lying in the sunrise shadows of the red plastic chairs. Coins are being counted on a metal table. The man behind the Apple Daily smokes and drinks coffee.

When I lived in the place with big windows I only worried about rainy days. I had no scars, no friends and two eyes.

Stephen Black: 72 hour Facebook Live Broadcast

THE BROADCAST IS HERE.

HELLO

Augmented Reality,art, Southeast Asian food, Bubiko Foodtour, VR, music, haikus, photographs, videos, unusualness... and discussions, readings from, and free downloads of, EBOOKS! The broadcast starts at 3PM September 30, Malaysia time, ends on Monday, October 2 at 3PM Malaysia time.

Until October 2, these ebooks are free downloads on Amazon:

Obama Search Words

Furikake

Fires by Cyril Wong

i ate tiong bahru (a paper copy is available at naiise)

Bali Wave Ghost

Flame Magnet

red dot SAD

Ipoh

Contact With Shadow is not a free download, but if you are interested in the future of book distribution, you should know about Unglue.

There is an audiobook version of i ate tiong bahru, narrated by Mirai Booth-Ong. And, this is 3how's debut album.

Bubiko Foodtour is AR's first superstar.

Base of operations: the Abby Hotel in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Thank you: Hock Moon Hiong BBQ meat and Jewellery Design and Management International School

If you are here because you are interested in my AR-related startup ideas, this post gives you an overview.

FWIW, I will soon have stories on Popularium and ElevenAsia

I am writing this 30 hours after the marathon went live.On one hand my blog views are double what they usually are. On the other hand, there haven't been many viewers. That is OK. I didn't do any pre-publicity, I am not paying Facebook to blast the event and there are no costs, other than my time. I hope that towards the end of the 72 hours there are more viewers. For now, I can only say if you visit the FB live page, say hi.

Here is an email I've sent out to friends and associates:

Hello everyone... I hope the weekend is a good one for you.

Just to short note to say that I am doing a live FB broadcast from Ipoh-for 72 hours. I started Friday at 3, will finish at 3 on Monday. The camera I am using isn't very good, the audio is so-so, the internet is slow and I am silhouetted during the daytime. Perfect!

Actually I am learning a lot, and my blog is seeing a nice amount of action. The free ebooks are trickling out of Amazon. I can see clicks on my blog posts about my AR startup plans. Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter from the Malay Mail.

Anyhoo...stop by and chat with the silhouette... and meet Secret Donut World, the Doughbots and steamboatbubikofoodtourwillie. http://www.blacksteps.tv/stephen-black-72-hour-facebook-live-broadcast/

onwARd,

Steve

This was the schedule for Friday...

FRIDAY

3pm Ipoh (3AM NYC)8AM London

Son Mn Chinese Lantern Exhibition

4:30-5:30 Ipoh(4:30-5:30AM NYC)9:30-10:30 AM London

reading from Obama Search Words

5:30-6:15 Ipoh

Ipoh food adventures

6:15-7PM Ipoh

Ipoh evening tour

7pm(7AM NYC)12PM London

Bubiko: Adventures in Photoshop at Thanas Wedding Photography

9pm(9am NYC)2pm London

Ipoh Evening food adventures

9-10 Ipoh

Free ebooks introduction

10pm(10am NYC)3pm London

Stephen Black and VR

11pm(11am NYC)4pm London

Stephen Black startup ideas

12am(12pm NYC)5pm Lon

Stephen Black and AR

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 (in Ipoh)

coming soon!

now

To find out what nownownow is about, visit!

 

I am now working on an AR app featuring Bubiko Foodtour, and building a bridge between the worlds of AR and bicycling.

Urnovl/121 words: a brief essay about a great big little idea

The concept of Urnovl/121.com is exciting, but it isn’t new. Their ‘texts with a word count of 121 ’ approach is a bigger, prose version of the “17 syllable rule” of haiku writing. Brian Williams once ran Littlerature, which featured stories 1064 words long. I had a few stories on Littlerature, including one about 3how, which is included in red dot SAD. So, the fixed short form is an old friend of mine. I am sure there were, and are, other flash fiction sites based on a specific word count.

The Urnovl/121 website is exciting because it is state of the art literature. Potentially at least: as with any uncurated, free platform, there will be “interesting” submissions. Two Shades of Gray proved that “interesting” stories can have interesting results. “State of the art”, in this case, means mobile-friendly, social media-friendly, attractive design and visuals. One or two things could be tweaked, but the site is still in beta. Two upgrades are planned before September.

So far, I’ve posted three pieces. The word count of 121 is a bit low for my liking, but that’s what makes it interesting. The texts have more depth than tweets, yet can be appreciated immediately; no need for links nor downloading, like ebooks. Readers, and those working in publishing, can quickly decide if a writer is worth learning more about. FWIW: This post has 242 words, the equivalent of two posts on the Urnovl/121 site.