Emily Lim-Leh:

What has been a fruitful journey with my first writing partner Pauline Loh, who was first editor of my memoir Finding My Voice in 2010.

Originally posted on By Pauline Loh:

emily catherine pauline

Best testimony for joining a writers group:
⇒Emily Lim – longlisted for Scholastic Picture Book award 2015,
⇒Catherine Carvell- finalist for SCBWI Golden Kite award 2015,
⇒Pauline Loh- shortlisted for Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book award 2015.

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This morning, I was invited to speak to two classes at St. James’ Church Kindergarten as part of their Once Upon A Story book project.

It was a nostalgic visit for me because Once Upon A Time, in 2013, the SJCK Kindergarten 2 Head Cara Lee first invited me to speak to her class for this project which she was piloting. She had read Prince Bear & Pauper Bear to her class. When they reached the end of my book, she read them my author blurb where I shared about my journey with my voice disorder. The children were intrigued that:

1) I was alive  (as opposed to “not dead”)

2) I live in Singapore

3) My story was inspired by my journey of coping with a rare voice condition

It sparked off a lively discussion when they started asking if I had recovered, and then branched off into talking about authors and books. Out of that, Cara birthed a 6-week pilot project on Books titled “Once Upon A Story”. The children learnt in-depth about different types of books, the history of books and all, capping the project by writing little books of their own which were printed. And they all wanted to write their own author blurbs :).

Author visit to SJCK in 2012

Author visit to SJCK in 2013

I was invited to speak to the children as part of the project. I brought along Caleb, who was then 2 years old.

Once Upon A Story book project won a Merit Award at the inaugural ECDA Conference in 2013 and has since been incorporated into the curriculum.

Fast forward to this morning. I brought Caleb (again) and he was wonderfully quiet and played at the back of the class by himself as I shared with the children how I write and publish.

SJCK Author Visit 2015

SJCK Author Visit 2015 – holding 1 mock-up cover & 1 printed book

They were very engaged and asked lots of questions.

There were the popular questions I am always asked: How many books have you written? Why do you want to write for children? How long do you take to write?

Then, some more detailed questions: Why do you need to count words when you write your manuscript? How do you make a book? How come all your stories are about animals and not people?

Then, some more unusual questions: Which school did you go to? Do you get tired of writing? Have you won 100 awards? (Ed: Haha…I have not even written 100 books!) How many books do you have at home? Is it one million?

And one that really caught my attention, coming from a 6-year old: Do any of your stories have more than 1 conflict?

Wow! Who did that last question come from? I asked as I explained the importance of conflict in stories. Unfortunately the child was home sick and missed the session.

SJCK Author visit2 2015

I was thrilled when they presented me with the loveliest thank you cards which they made. And when they crowded around and crushed me, I felt (very momentarily) like a rock star.

Thank You Card based on my book “A Very Big Storm”

Thank You Card based on my book “Under The Sea, Under The Sea”

Inside Card: Listing My Books which they Like

Inside Card Message

I hope that I sowed a small mustard seed in the hearts of these children and they will always be this excited about books and reading :).

If I had to sum up what I have learnt about being a parent, I would tell you this: No PhD and no amount of research or studying could have ever prepared me for parenting.

Now, as stay-at-home mum to my feisty preschooler, I have garnered so many lessons that I am certain I will one day graduate with a PhD in the following disciplines:

The Law of Imagination
Caleb is a backseat driver. On top of pretending to drive in his car seat, my 4-year old spews endless instructions like a drunken driving instructor.

“Mum, don’t stop,” he tells me when I brake at the red light.
“Let’s go!”
“Turn left!”

One day, after explaining for the umpteenth time why I had to slow down in heavy traffic, I exclaimed, “Caleb, there are many cars in front. I can’t fly over. This is not an aeroplane.”
“Um,” he said and fell silent. Then a moment later, he quipped, “Must ask uncle to fix the wings first.”
In moments like these, I am tickled by what it’s like to see things through childlike eyes. I also remind myself to never stifle Caleb’s creativity and imagination.

And the other disciplines that I am currently being schooled in for my PhD include:

– The Art of Patience

– The Business of Negotiations

– The Language of Repetition

– Physical Education 101

– Preschooler Philosophy

– The Science of Discipline 

– The Mathematics of Love

My full story along with that of 20 other mums are now hot off the press in Keep Calm & Mother On!

Keep Calm & Mother On Cover

Collectively, we share our parenting stories from universal topics of coping with work and parenting to topical Singaporean issues of tuition, primary one registration, PSLE, homeschooling as well as parents who have to cope with kids with medical issues.


Keep Calm contents pageI’m excited to be among contributors who include Straits Times Deputy Editor Clarissa Oon, Armour Publishing Managing Editor Ruth Wan, Homeschool Singapore Founder Dawn Fung,  former CNA producer Hwee Goh, Danger Dan Author Monica Lim, Pat’s Schoolhouse Founder Patrica Koh, amongst other mums, all with our unique stories to share of our kids from aged 1 to 21. Curated by award-winning author and former journalist Pauline Loh.

Hop over to Armour Publishing’s here to check out this lovely book!


Keep Calm, Let Go, Stay Sane & Mother On

This morning, I headed to Methodist Girls’ School, my Alma Mater. It was the very first time that I was stepping into my old school in its new premises.

It was Parent-Teacher’s Conference Day. Except I wasn’t there as a parent.


Together with BFF Lynn, we set up a booth to sell my books to the parents who would be coming to and fro for meetings with their children’s teachers.

It turned out to be an impromptu reunion of many old friends whose kids are now in the school.

Chee Kiat

A old friend from college.

MGS friends

Old friends from our MGS Class of 87.

There were many more of us but we didn’t get a chance to capture everyone in one shot as we were busy yakking and catching up.

Oh, in the midst of all our yakking rather than selling, my 4 Toy Titles and Finding My Voice memoir sold out!

So, we packed up happily, yakked a bit more with our friend Khia May helping out at the booth opposite us and then headed home.

Thanks Lynn for manning the sales booth with me. Two is better than one :).


Reunion At Old School – Memories, Gems & School uniforms (Part 1)

Reunion At Old School – Part 2

Yippee! I’m holding my copy of Keep Calm & Mother On: 21 Stories from Mothers with Children aged 1-21.

Keep Calm & Mother On Cover
I’m one of the 21 mums who contributed parenting stories in this excellently curated collection where mums bare and share authentic, relatable parenting experiences in the Singapore context.

Our experiences are similar on some level. We share the common worry genes once wearing the mother title. We know how mindnumbing it sometimes gets being with toddler/preschooler as a full-time mum (I tell people my writing keeps me sane after a long tiring parenting day.)

Yet, at the same time, our parenting journeys are so different.

Because our children are different.

And we as parents are different.


Editor Pauline Loh has brought together a wide band of mums with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

* Straits Times Deputy Editor Clarissa Oon shares her travel experiences with two young tods.

* Former Channel News Asia Producer-Presenter Hwee Goh interviews her four kids for soundbites to illustrate the stark differences between boys and girls.

* Danger Dan Author Monica Lim tells what it is like raising teenagers.

* Pat’s Schoolhouse Founder Patricia Koh reflects on her life station as mum to three grown-up daughters who are now mums themselves

* Armour Publishing Managing Editor Ruth Wan and Pauline Loh have also shared their stories which I found especially poignant.

You can buy this newly launched title at Armour Publishing’s online store here. Better still, buy multiple copies for your friends for the upcoming Mother’s Day!

Mothering stories that you can laugh and learn from is like having a good girly chat with friends who get it when it comes to the joys and aches of parenting!



In celebration of SG50, POSB and People’s Association, together with National Library Board, have just launched a National KidsWrite Campaign over the weekend to capture Singapore children’s vision of the nation in 50 years’ time.

In connection with this, I was invited to speak to school children involved with this project a few weeks back at the launch of the writing workshops. The broad topic for me was “Inspiration”.

Kidswrite Talk

Kidswrite Talk

In preparing for this talk, I became inspired by the research that eventually went into my presentation, which I titled “Can Our Stories Change the World?”.

It was a 45-minute presentation so I won’t go into the whole spew. But in picking out books that bring power to discussions on issues, invite reflection on life, help one navigate one’s potential and the like, I found I ended up preaching to myself and more convicted on why I write.

One picture book in particular, which I found so apt to share at this talk is A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham.

aBuscalledHeaven“A broken, old bus appears one morning, sad as a whale on a beach, right outside Stella’s house. On the front of it, held up with packing tape, is a hand painted sign… “Heaven”.”

And with those opening lines, we are reminded through the story how one person can inspire another and another to all come together to make a difference for our community.

The POSB PAssion Kidswrite Project is also open for online submissions of 100-150 words micro-essays from kids from 6-13 years old. The theme is on the vision for Singapore in 50 years time. Closing deadline is 30th April, with prizes to be won for the best submissions. Read more at POSB’s website here.

Last Friday, fellow author Pauline Loh and I were invited to speak to 60 students at Wheelock College on the subject of Writing Children’s Books and our experiences as local authors in Singapore.

It was to mark the end of a school term where the students from the Early Childhood Education sector were learning about local literature writing.

Wheelock College

Wheelock College

When I arrived, a student was reading a local picture book to the room.

Wheelock College

Wheelock College

I spoke on the Sins & Commandments of Writing Children’s Books.

The Classic Story Structure.

Show, Don’t Tell.

I noted to the room that as a mum to a feisty preschooler and an author, I had to switch hats on the Commandment of  “Not hitting the reader on the head with morals”.

As an author, I would stress repeatedly not to hit the child on the head with morals but show it and let them come to the conclusion themselves, because they get enough of that from their parents and teachers.

But after the talk, I would be going home to repeat/remind/rehash to my 4-year old what to do and not to do in no uncertain terms.

It was the stuff of that could cause one to become bi-polar.

Wheelock Q&A

Wheelock Q&A

Pauline and I also had a Q&A session where we fielded several questions, amongst which:

How do you get started in writing children’s books?

How long does it take to be published?

What’s the local scene like now for writing children’s books? How supportive or developed is it?

What’s the most difficult part of being a local children’s author?  Er…everything. How much time do you have?

I managed to finish in time to zip home, grab Caleb, send him to preschool and stay in his class for Friday library duty, which I just volunteered for so I could see how he is in class.

I watch him, the only self-appointed Assistant Librarian in a class of 20, dish out instructions to his classmates on borrowing and returning procedures.

And I am tickled at how I have been blessed with a kid who will one day make an amazing character in a book. As any writer’s guide book on writing for children will say, build a main character that readers will root for, one who is believable, relatable yet unique, with depth, flaws and is highly memorable.

I’m raising one right before me.


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