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This year is the 1st time I am missing the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) since it started 7-8 years back. My official AFCC babysitters ie. my parents, are away on holiday, cruising somewhere in Europe.

Although I’m not getting my usual one full week of pure adult, book-geek conversations, I do have one major highlight from the event.

My Slovakian publisher is a speaker at AFCC this year and we had a chance to catch up over lunch yesterday. She also brought with her, hot off the press, and air-flown….Slovak copies of my books!

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I managed to attend Petra’s 1st AFCC session where she shared about the Slovakian market and also read a few pages of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear in Slovak. Petra’s an ex-TV journalist, amongst many other accomplishments. She’s also an uber-cool doting mum of four kids. She brought two of them – teenagers! – along for the conference. Her son helped her through her powerpoint presentation. Her daughter took photos for her.

As I watched them, I wondered if Caleb and I will be like that in 10 years’ time. Something for me to aspire towards!

Over the weekend, I ran my second Writer in the Gardens workshop at Gardens by the Bay. I took 20 families on a walk through a lesser known part of the Gardens to soak in the ambience and let our imagination wander with story ideas. With so much happening, I didn’t do a headcount and forgot the group photo but with parents and kids, I think we ended up with a sizeable group of about 50 people.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few friends from the past who showed up for the workshop. Two were my secondary schoolmates who brought their daughters for the workshop.

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With my secondary schoolmates and & daughters (Photo credit: Eleanor Kor)

An ex-colleague whom I have not seen in years came with her son. And a new friend I recently got to know in the past 6 months brought her daughter.

After setting the tone for the workshop with a short powerpoint (in the aircon of Canonball Room), we headed out at 5pm, which was a lovely time for a walk through the Gardens.

We stopped at 3 locations, where I asked the children to create a villain character at the Petrified Wood (at Location 1), draw magical creatures at the Understory/Mushroom Dome (at Location 2) and imagine what sort of magic created the Web of Life creatures (at Location 3).

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Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

 

 

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 Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

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I hope the children took away ideas and new perspectives about finding stories in the Gardens and places all around us. Meanwhile, I also have homework to do as I hunker down to work on my Residency manuscript inspired by the Gardens!  

A blogger mum (Angie of Growing Hearts 123) brought her kids and wrote a lovely comprehensive review of the workshop here. Thank you Angie!

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The Slovakian editions of my two picture books Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse have just been printed!

I am eagerly looking forward to collecting my advance copies from my publisher who will be in Singapore as a speaker at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2017 next week.

 

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My publisher’s daughter holding the advance copies of my books

 

I met Petra Nagyová Džerengová at AFCC a few years back when she attended a panel session that I spoke on. She had come as an invited guest. When she told me that she was the Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, I asked if she thought my books would be suitable in Slovakia. She said yes.

I did not know then that Petra (on top of being Deputy Mayor, bestselling author and proud mum of 4 kids) is also Managing Director of leading Slovakian publisher Verbarium.

Thanks to Petra, my books now have a voice in Slovakia! This is the 4th language that my Toy Titles have been published in.

(My books are now also available online at Verbarium’s website.)

 

Caleb and I recently followed Ben on his 16-day work trip to Switzerland and USA.

It was an important family trip for us after 10 months of being in and out of doctors’ clinics and multiple scans following my surgery last June where I had one breast removed and reconstructive surgery following a breast cancer diagnosis. I thank God that I am well and was ready for my big trip.

As Ben’s work locations were in two rather un-touristy towns, I packed several small travel toys and activities for some afternoons where I might just want to veg out in the hotel room when Ben was at work.

I wrote out a travel checklist to remind myself of various things to pack into our luggage.

Caleb, who loves to be involved in everything, saw my list and decided to start his own travel checklist.

He followed me around the house, asking me how to spell words that he added to his list.

When he reached item #24 on his list, he told me, “Remember to bring Joy.”

“Bring what?” I asked as I busied with packing his clothes and toys.

“Being Joy…you know Joy? Joy in your heart,” he said.

I paused from my busy bee state and looked up. “Wow…,” I said. “Okay, we will bring Joy.”

Caleb travel list

“And don’t forget me,” Caleb said as he added his own name to his packing list. “We’ll also bring God and Jesus,” he said, adding two more names to his list.

And so we did.

We had a free and easy, chilled out vacation.

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Caleb and I spent a morning playing in a patch of residual snow outside our hotel.

An afternoon in the bookstore when it was too chilly to be outdoors.

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And other simple pleasures.

And we were filled with joy in our hearts.

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When I wrote Prince Bear & Pauper Bear 10 years ago, I borrowed nieces, godchildren and friends’ kids to do book readings with me. I never imagined the day when I would be on stage with my own son doing a book reading together.

That day came yesterday when Caleb and I did a mother-son book reading together at the start of the ARISE! concert yesterday.

It was a special moment for me to see my 6-year-old read Prince Bear & Pauper Bear confidently, and then join the rest of the children’s choir in singing, shouting and praising God with songs and worship.

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Photo credit: Ong Puay See

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Photo credit: Arlene Alegra-Wood

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Caleb singing “Revelation” together with his cousins and Music Director/Composer Amy Tan

 Related link:

http://singapore.kidsarise.com/

This morning, I had the pleasure of catching Prince Bear & Pauper Bear‘s interactive storytelling show, which is running from now till next Thursday.  

I am thankful for valuable partnerships like The Learning Connection who has been supportive of my books and local writing.

Storybox theatre

Prince Bear & Pauper Bear is special because it is my first book and what started me on my writing path. Once upon a time, a local publisher told me that I would be lucky if I could even sell 1,000 copies of my picture book. This is unfortunately the reality of the market.

I thank God for His favour that today, Prince Bear & Pauper Bear has sold close to 15,000 copies and has been published in 4 languages. 

Writing is a solitary journey. The encouragement of readers is what helps me to plough on!

Related link:

Prince Bear & Pauper Bear take the stage with Storybox this April!

Yesterday, I ran my Writer-in-the-Gardens Workshop at Gardens By the Bay. It was also the last day of the month long Children’s Festival there so Gardens was thronging with crowds.

But in Canonball Room, a roomful of children were getting a short primer on writing and drawing magical and memorable characters.

MelanietalkGuest author Melanie Lee shared with the children about how she started on her journey of writing her Squirky the Alien series and introduced some of her books’ characters.

I led the children through a creative exercise of looking at selected plants and flowers through a story lens and write or sketch characters inspired by nature.

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Illustrator Patrick Yee took the children through an accompanying craft where they went from words to illustration.

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I hope the children took away sparks of ideas and inspiration to create their own stories.

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Related posts:

FREE Writer-in-the-Gardens-Workshop – Creating Memorable Characters

FREE Writer-in-the-Gardens Workshop is a Magical Walk in the Park