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Today is Thank God for Family, Friends and Favour Friday!

I disappeared from social media for the entire January and most of February since this year started. It was partly because my eyesight got blurry from staring at my phone too much the past few months….and I now own a pair of reading glasses ie. I’ve joined the Lau Hua Yan club.  And partly that I have resumed my routine of ferrying my 6-year old to Kindergarten and started writing too. 

I began the year with my writing residency at Gardens by the Bay, where I have taken several walks to plot my new manuscript. I’m also doing some writing and publishing work for 2 repeat clients.

In between all that, we celebrated Caleb’s 6th birthday, followed by Chinese New Year where I caught up with friends on top of the family visits.

But when someone emailed to ask if she needed to subscribe to my blog again to receive blogposts, I noted that I should update on where I am at.

I have ongoing 3-weekly antibodies injections (Herceptin and Pertuzameb) till July, which will be the end of this 1 year treatment. I am also on a 3-monthly Lucrin injection to take me to early menopause. And I am on daily Tamoxifen tablets.

I believe I am healed and well. So, to me, these are extra vitamins and supplements to strengthen my body.

It’s 3 months since my final chemotherapy cycle. I’ve grown from Sinead O Connor’s botak head to Annie Lennox’s super short cut. In another 3 months, I should get to Demi Moore’s Ghost hairstyle.

Annie Lennox phase.png

My Annie Lennox phase – having my antibodies infusion yesterday

Until then, I’ll switch my assemble of K-pop wig, surgeon scrub caps, newsboy caps or commando like when I went for my medical appointment yesterday.

I thank God for family, friends and His seeing me through a rough 2016 and for His continued favour in this new year!

Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

As part of my Writing Residency at Gardens By The Bay, I will be running a free children’s workshop on 2 April 2017 at 3pm – 4.30pm.

This workshop, for children of ages 6-8 years old, is based on the theme Magical Creatures, Memorable Characters, and aims to get children to imagine up magical story characters, as inspired by Gardens.

There will be an accompanying art and craft session by bestselling illustrator Patrick Yee, of the Harry Lee Kuan Yew and Bo Bo & Cha Cha picture books.

Award-winning author Melanie Lee will also share on how she created her character in her Squirky the Alien series.

To sign up for this workshop, please email Garden By the Bay based on the details below or click here which will take you directly to its website!

 

EDM - Emily - Final with NAC logo.jpg

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Today, I ran a pop-up mini-writing workshop for a group of homeschoolers. This was organized by singer-songwriter & homeschool mum Dawn Fung, who singlehandedly had over 8 kids nicely seated down at Old Chang Kee, with their pens and notebooks out, when I arrived. I take my hat off to this multi-hatted lady. (Actually, I would take my wig off too, but I’m not brave enough yet!)

So over, fishballs and curry puffs, I shared with the children about the inspiration behind how I started writing and took them through the Classic Story Structure, which is the structure I used for my 4 Toy Titles and 3 Tibby Titles.

In a nutshell, the Main Character has a problem, tries to solve the problem 3 times but fails (using the rule of 3), eventually arrives at a solution (which is the story climax) and the story ends with the Story Problem resolved. And on that note, I left the children to think up their stories based on this Classic Story Structure.

oldchangekeetalk

 

 

The Really, Really Hot Day, along with 4 of my other picture books, will be featured in animation in the storytelling segment of 5 episodes of Junction Tree, Singapore’s 1st bilingual 26-espisode preschool TV series. All 4 of the picture books which I wrote for Singapore National Cooperative Federation, and re-published by Seed Institute, and I Can Do It!, which I wrote for the Ministry of Education for the preschools, are featured.

I had the pleasure of attending the launch Mediacorp’s new preschool series which showed a trailer of The Really, Really Hot Day animation along with other segments of this show.

I enjoyed the show, which reminded me a little of Hi-5 with a little of Sesame Street and lots of Singaporeaness. The different hosts switching between English to Chinese to Malay and Tamil went smoothly and gave it a true Singapore flavor. This series is supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

Junction Tree debuts today on Mediacorp’s Okto Channel!

 

Related Links:

A Very Big Storm on a Really Hot Day

http://tv.toggle.sg/en/channel8/shows/junction-tree-english-chinese/info

 

 

 

I’m excited to share that The Learning Connection with be staging Prince Bear & Pauper Bear as an interactive storytelling performance for 10 shows this April!

The Learning Connection first staged Prince Bear & Pauper Bear 4 years back, with a weekend launch at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

This year is especially special for me since it is Prince Bear & Pauper Bear’s 10th anniversary of publication. I hope this book (my very first book written) will delight readers and audiences for many more decades to come!

Details for the show are here:

Story Box - Prince Bear & Pauper Bear Mailer (2017) final.jpg

Caleb’s just turned 6! And he’s grown by leaps and bounds in the past year, from skills to perspectives, resilience to new focus.

6th-birthday

1.      Ditching the Wheels, Making a Splash

Caleb has been cycling on his 4-wheels bicycle since 3/4 years old. Just past his 5th birthday, he decided, rather nonchalantly, that he wanted to ditch the two training wheels and cycle on two wheels. He wobbled on his first attempt along the road outside our home. On his second try, a few minutes later, he steadied up and took off!

Next, he decided to try swimming without his swim-jacket. After a few kicks and splashes with Ben, he started diving into the pool swim-jacketless. That he had crossed these big milestones without cajoling or expectation made them that much sweeter to see.

A few months later, he started to bathe himself on a few occasions and then consistently clean up after himself after his big business.

It’s been a treat to watch him leap from one milestone to another, and wonder what he will do next.

 2.      Wielding lightsabers & Lego Force through the Dark Side

On 1st June last year, midway through 5 years old, Caleb had to grow up rather quickly when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As his full-time caregiver, I had to learn to let go of him for stretches of time as I went through surgery and chemotherapy. He also had new routines to get used to without me being his constant, like my dad taking over ferrying him to and from kindergarten.

Thanks to the combination of Star Wars and Lego, Caleb’s love of Star Wars turned him into an adapt master-builder which saw us through my wilderness period (aka the Dark Side) when I stayed home through stretches of time.

He built his way through 2000-piece Lego structures, from the Millenium Falcon to Tie Striker to A-Wing Fighter and various other spaceships whose names I cannot remember.

 

Star Wars with Angel.png

With God-sister Angel on their Monday playdates which my dearest friend Gail started during my chemotherapy months

 

 3.      Not my Hongpao!

A couple of days back, a good friend sent me a blog link for a friend’s 7-year old daughter Janelle who has a rare heart condition and is in need of a heart transplant. The cost of the surgery and health complications had led to ballooning expenses and they were trying to raise funds to cover cost.

Ben and I thought it would be a good life lesson to use to teach Caleb about helping others in need.

Yesterday morning, when I was still half-sleep, I heard Ben talking to Caleb, “Would you like to give $100 of your hongpao money to help Janelle? Papa and Mummy will give $500.”

“What? Not my hongpao money!” I heard Caleb protest before I fell back into sleep.

An hour later, over breakfast, Ben said, “Did you hear what he said?”

“Yah,” I muttered. “He doesn’t want to give his hongpao money.”

“No, he did,” Ben said. “He decided that we give $100 and he give his $600 hongpao money.”

My eyes opened wide and my heart swelled in a proud parent moment. He had gone from initially objecting to reflecting upon it and then deciding to give up his hongpao money on his own free will.  

Later, that day, when he was building his Star Wars Lego set, a Christmas present from auntie Jing Siew, I gave him a cuddle and said, “Do you know why I am so proud of you?”

“Don’t know,” he said.

“You did something amazing this morning, remember?”

“Forgot already,” he said, focused on his Lego.

“Remember you gave something up?”

“Oh yah, that,” he said, “a lot of money.”

And that was that. A significant milestone crossed in his nonchalant way.

 

Related Link:

Help Fund Janelle’s VAD and heart transplant

Inside Out Kid #3: Mummy, You can take out your Pretend Hair at Home

At the start of this year, I had a sense that it would be a significant year since 2016 marks 10 years since I started writing. I just did not know how significant it would be until it hit me in the chest on 1 June when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through it all, the Word has been front, back and centre in my life:

1. Bunny Finds the Right Stage

In March, Esplanade Theatre staged my book Bunny Finds the Right Stuff in a 30-show run for their PLAYtime! children’s theatre. It was a huge delight to see my book come alive on stage in an excellent production.

bunny Esplanade flyer (front)

Esplanade also staged what was probably a first with one Bunny Finds The Right Stuff special theatre show tailored to special needs kids.

StraitsTimes 5Mar2016

Bunny theatre show in the news – Straits Times 5 March 2016

 

2. Benji, Yumi, Origami’s Splashy Launch

To mark Singapore-Japan’s 50 years of friendship this year (SJ50), the Book Council invited me to write a picture book in collaboration with Japanese illustrator Kazumi Wilds based on the theme of Friendship. Another team of a Japanese author and Singaporean illustrator collaborated for the other book.

Genting Resorts sponsored the two English-Japanese bilingual picture books and splashy book launch at their Resorts World SEA Aquarium. It was a fairytale evening which gave me much to soak in before the storm that came a week after.

ST_20160528_NAJAPAN_2322659 (Straits Times photo of Benji, Yumi)

Source: Straits Times news article 28 May 2016

3. God Knows Me & my Inside-out Kid Leh     

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis on 1st June this year sparked off a start of journaling for me, a writing discipline that I failed to do for years.

I was also prompted in my heart to blog about my journey facing off with breast cancer – which led to my God Knows Leh and Inside-Out Kid blog series – where I shared my raw and blemished off-the-chest experiences, from diagnosis to my latest stage of treatment.

My creative children’s book writing took a back seat for the past 6 months. I did however write one new picture book manuscript which delighted me greatly and lifted my spirits during a slightly down-stage when I first started chemotherapy.

chemo chair

4. Tibby in Tamil translation

Tibby the Tiger Bunny was published in Tamil Edition! Always a thrill to see my books in a new language.

Tibby Tamil

5. Prince Bear & Pauper Bear’s journey to Slovakia

In August, I was delighted to ink a licence agreement for two of my Toy Titles (Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse) to be published in Slovakia in the Slovakian language. This marks the 5th country that my Toy Titles will be published in.

 

6. My Toy Titles’ extended stay in China

I was pleasantly surprised when my China publisher renewed their licence for the Chinese edition of my 4 Toy Titles for a second term. So Prince Bear, Pauper Bear & their Toy friends will extend their stay in China for some more years.

chinese-edition

 

7. My Toy Titles make cover page on The New Paper

A reporter contacted me in October to interview me on my experience with self-publishing. I was going to pass up on the interview as I was going through chemotherapy -I was on my hiatus from writing and publishing stuff and also didn’t want to be photographed.

So, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise when my four Toy Titles made cover page of The New Paper’s Sunday edition.

tnp-frontpage-retake

 

And I decided to be brave and say yes to an impromptu photo with my “new hairstyle”.

tnppg2-retake

8. Tibby, Scaredy Snout & 10 years of Write Stuff

In late November, I launched my latest picture book Tibby & Scaredy Snout in a private party which was also to mark the end of my last chemotherapy session. It was a double celebration and thanksgiving party with family and friends.

 

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Book Launch & Thanksgiving Celebration

 

 

 

9. Gardens Residency

I was awarded a writing residency at Gardens by the Bay this year. So, I will start 2017 with a walk in the park and smelling the flowers as I find the write stuff for my residency manuscript.

 

As I sit in the final days of 2016, I look to 2017 and declare it as my year of Purpose – where I pray that the work of my hands will be purposeful and my words will be well-chosen.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”                                 – Proverbs 19:21

Related Posts:

2015 Reflections -Writing, Waiting & Great (leveling of) Expectations