I’m Michael, a self-published children’s author based in Sydney, Australia. I am passionate about creating beautiful, empowering, diverse, and inclusive picture books for kids.
I wasn’t always an author. I was born in London, England, to two Chinese parents. My parents are Hakka Chinese, originally from southern China.
Our family moved around a lot. I attended four different elementary schools—not a recipe for a good education.
My parents split up when I was about eight. The court told my younger brother and I to live with our dad.
I grew up trying to figure out the world on my own.
Dad passed away when I was 23.
I have been a lot of things: waiter, cook, washer-upper, penniless, unemployed, homeless, self employed, internet marketer, lost, husband, and now father to two amazing boys.
The last ten years have been tough. As my affiliate marketing business died a slow death, I didn’t know what to do. I barely stayed afloat for the best part of ten years.
Then, in 2019, I decided to try my luck at writing a series of children’s picture books. I invested the best part of a year into five Picco Puppy books. The series bombed.
I was crushed. But I didn’t give up. I picked myself up from the floor and tried again.
I thought about my kids. From before they were born, all I ever wanted for them was to be happy. Isn’t that what life is about?
Coming up with the title was easy. I called it I Wish You Happiness right from day one.
I can’t draw to save my life. So, I hired the best illustrator I could afford. I count my lucky stars that I listened to my wife. It was she who suggested I hire the talented Ann Baratashvili. She won first prize in the 2009 DeviantArt/Wacom “Bring Your Vision to Life: Dreams” contest, beating out thousands of artists from around the world.
I trusted my wife’s judgement. And, boy am I glad I did! Wow! Ann’s diverse illustrations were stunning.
My next bit of good fortune was David Miles agreeing to be my book designer and editor. David was the former creative/publishing director at Familius. He is an award-winning author and/or illustrator of over 40 titles and designer of over 300 books.
My first draft was underdeveloped to put it kindly. David encouraged me to work on the manuscript. Each time I showed him, he encouraged me to work on it more. After several revisions, we finally had a manuscript worthy of accompany Ann’s beautiful illustrations.
David produced a beautiful book that I still marvel at everytime I pick it up.
Five months before I released the book, I was offered a publishing contract for my book. I politely declined the offer because I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. I decided to self publish my book.
I released I Wish You Happiness on November 20, 2020. I picked that day because it is “World Children’s Day.”
The response has been more than I could have hoped for. The book received four children’s picture book of the year awards. Over 1,100 customers have rated it 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. And, we’ve sold thousands of copies.
I was desperate to prove to myself that I Wish You Happiness wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
I released I Will Always Be Proud of You on March 15, 2022. Thankfully, customers loved it. Over 500 customers have rated it 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The timeless story empowers children to be the best they can be. It explores the many wonderful possibilities in life, and reassures children that they will be loved unconditionally whatever they choose to be.
With the help of customers, I have been able to donate over 200 copies of my books to underprivileged kids via Barnardos and the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation in Australia, and Kids Need to Read and the Tree House Books in the United States.
I’ve been working with two talented illustrators on two brand new picture books for release early in 2023, with more planned for later in the year.
I also plan to launch a service, that a number of customers have requested, where you can personalize my books with ANY name. If you’d like to be notified when the service is available, subscribe to my newsletter.
I hope to be able to continue creating beautiful, inspiring picture books to empower your kids, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and (hopefully) future generations.
For the first time in over ten years, I wake up each day, with hope, rather than dread, in my heart. I still worry about money and bills, but not as much. I can finally afford to buy the necessities my kids need for school.
But of course, I can’t do any of that without the kind support of my wonderful customers.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your kind and generous support.
P.S. Please stay in touch. Sign up to my newsletter. And, follow us on Instagram (@piccopuppy) and Facebook.com/PiccoPuppy.
Here are the book awards, in case you were wondering.
- Mom’s Choice Awards® GOLD Award
- 2021 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards GOLD MEDAL WINNER
- 2021 Readers’ Favorite Illustration Award WINNER
- 2021 International Book Awards WINNER
- 2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards WINNER
- 2020 National Indie Excellence Awards WINNER
- 2020 Foreword Indies FINALIST
- Story Monsters APPROVED Award