Creative collaboration

Posted: February 28, 2018 in Children's stories

What better way to spend a Saturday than with a whole bunch of quirky creative souls, all collaborating to create joy!

I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can give a child is a love of books and reading. By creating awesome picture books, Book Dash aims for every child to own 100 books by the age of five.

Books allow young minds to travel to exciting new worlds, often very different from their own reality. Or perhaps even to worlds that resonate with what they are experiencing in their own lives and give them a sense of ‘not being alone.’

I feel incredibly privileged to have been selected to be a writer at the Book Dash event in Cape Town in December last year – being given the opportunity to gift a story and bring joy into children’s lives.

The Lost Laugh cover pic

This tweet about how our book is being used just made me so happy:

Lost laugh tweet

How Book Dash works: Book Dash gathers volunteer creative professionals to create new, African storybooks that anyone can freely translate and distribute. The graphic below by Alex Latimer outlines the process so well:

Alex Latimer Book Dash graphic


Earlier this year, I participated in a full day interactive workshop on ‘Writing Stories for Children’ run by award-winning UK writer, Alan Durant, at the Franschhoek Literary Festival. I really enjoyed the experience and came away with some great tips and loads of ideas.

This is something fun that I wrote in a quick, impromptu exercise:

Pickles the puppy had a secret. It was a huge secret, a secret he could never share with anyone. Nobody would understand. Pickles hated digging and getting his paws dirty. He did not enjoy going for walks either. He would much rather lie on the veranda all day in the sun. But most of all, he didn’t like sniffing other dog’s bottoms! Slobber made him feel sick and barking hurt his throat. Deep down inside Pickles only wished for one thing. Pickles wanted to be a cat.

Bongo smile

The dog really did that?

Posted: October 4, 2017 in Short stories

I am excited and humbled to have my story called ‘A Lick and a Promise‘ about Shadow the rescue dog, adopted many years ago from TEARS Animal Rescue in Cape Town, published in Chicken Soup for the Soul ‘The Dog Really Did that?’. The book was launched globally in August and royalties go to American Humane. More details about the book can be found on the Chicken Soup for the Soul website.

The Dog Really Did That cover

Snakes alive

Posted: April 30, 2017 in General

I recently had the privilege of interviewing three snake catchers, ranging from a teenager to a retiree,  to write a feature article. The brief was to focus on a dangerous profession. I looked at the adrenalin-filled and perilous occupation of urban snake-catching through the lens of ‘what makes snake-catchers do what they do’, while also touching on the typically divisive issue of snake conservation. Fear of snakes is rated as one of the top fears in the world, so, are snake-catchers generally fearless people?

You can read my article on the blog.





Nepal – once is not enough

Posted: March 8, 2017 in Travel

Last year, my husband and I spent an incredible two and a half weeks in Nepal. We visited Kathmandu – ‘city of temples and traffic’; Dhulikhel and Nagarkot, both with spectacular views of the Himalayas; and Chitwan National Park, home of the endangered greater one-horned rhino.

I’ve shared a little taste of our journey on my other blog, ‘Trips ‘n Travels’:

Blog header 2

Hope you enjoy the adventure!

A gift

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Short stories

I haven’t written much lately, so it was a lovely surprise and boost to receive an email recently to let me know that two of my stories had been selected for publication in the Jalada-Writivism joint anthology. Jalada is a pan-African writer’s collective and Writivism is a programme run by the Centre for African Cultural Excellence (CACE). I wrote the two stories as part of the 2014 Writivism mentorship programme. So… here they are if you would like to read them:

The Gift


Jalada anthology 2015 coverYou can also download the full anthology, My Maths Teacher Hates Me and other stories.







Excerpt from a review by Patsy Mugabi (June 2017):

“Michelle Preen also features in this anthology as she writes with a cool, calm and collected spirit. She describes the gift of time wrapped as a curse. The man that claims a father’s life is the recipient of this gift. In another story, Early, Preen describes the denial of loss of a child in the rawest manner. You know the saying time heals all wounds, well the wound in this womb has not yet been healed.”

Early – a short, short story

Posted: May 27, 2014 in Short stories

I was fortunate to be offered a place, along with about 60 other writers from all over Africa, on the Centre for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) 2014 Writivism programme. Through the programme, my short, short story, Early, has been published on the Deyu African website and on Bookslive.

I am also very excited that my story, The Gift, is on the longlist of 14 and will be published in the 2014 Writivism anthology.