The three year process of writing and illustrating my book ‘GrowingHearts’

Dear friends, I have been quietly working on my dream these three and a half years and now am ready to share with you.

It was 2014, a friend (Cate) out of the blue, insisted and sponsored part of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content for me to attend together with her. That conference ignited something within me and 6 years later, this dream of writing materialised in GrowingHearts.

It started out with my desire to leave a legacy behind for my children. With the saturated market of art books, children’s literature, what and how would my book be different from the market? How would it meet a need in today’s society?

As I mused over what to write, I had flashback on those early years of mothering my babies. It was a period of great struggle and what encouraged me was this special devotional book for moms.

In the recent years I noticed a real need for younger mums who also struggle with not only mothering, but how to manage their relationship with God in their daily new routine as mothers. It inspired me to share what worked and didn’t work for me in my early days of parenting my lil ones. With this need in mind, I started to write. My heart’s desire is to encourage young mothers to grow in their walk with God and grow the children’s hearts in the Lord.

I shared my dream with hubby. He welcomed the idea and lended his support whenever I was working on my manuscript. I emailed him all my drafts so he was my first reader after each draft. Without my hubby’s faith in and support for me, this book would not be possible! Thank you for encouraging my every step and solving many problems that arose along the way! You are my strongest cheerleader and I love you immensely!

I had one day off in a week. 2017 September I started writing my first page. I dug out all my journals in the early years of parenting and mused over the contents. Every week I would spend half a day to write. Whenever I had the energy, I would continue writing on weekends and sometimes weeknights.

The day came 2020 March, when I had finally completed my first full draft and hubby gave me a big thumbs up! Told me to print and he’ll pay.

Along the way, I tried contacting a publisher but there was no response. At the same time, my mentor strongly recommended me to self-publish so that my content will not be edited by editor and save costs. With that, I prayed and sought God’s help to provide me the relevant people who could and would proofread my manuscript voluntarily.

The whole process was nothing short of a miracle. I witnessed how God provided a host of friends- pastor, English language teachers, Christian friends, artist friend whom I got to know not long ago, my best friend, my aunt, ex secondary teacher mentor and of course my spiritual mentor to take their precious time to proofread my manuscript. Thank you all for your valuable time and effort invested in this book!

I was humbled and grateful for the privilege of editing my drafts with this committed team! The editing was surprisingly not as tough as the waiting for the next person’s feedback. The manuscript literally underwent scrutiny from 10 pairs of eyes. It took many months to gather the different feedbacks from everywhere. After each scrutiny, I edited and reviewed tirelessly for countless times. Through this whole process of getting feedback and proofreading, I gained a better understanding on how my words can be better phrased, and my content slowly crystallised in 2020 Dec.

There were approvals to be made and technical support like the graphic layouts and illustrations to churn out.

Illustrations

I marvel at how the paintings I had done during the last few years would eventually become a crucial illustration for this book on Growing Hearts! Somehow as the stories unraveled, the paintings I had done also slowly weaved into the chapters of my book.

Simultaneously, while waiting for the editing process, I used 2020 to compile my past paintings and created my cover page illustration as well as illustrations that has to be done fresh for a few chapters in the book. I also enlisted my kids to help draw one illustration for a segment each.

How do I illustrate the theme GrowingHearts and Immanuel?

Initially, I thought of having this body of water (symbolising the Holy Spirit with us) pillar with all the kids stuffs. I tried a few variations but it doesn’t express those themes. It was too abstract. Until one day, my son ran past and rammed into the drawing easel. It arrested my attention. As I chided him for his recklessness, it gave me the idea of using the easel as my cover page! It was the perfect representation of GrowingHearts as I used it almost day in and out, for all kinds of instructions and activities! Soon, the whimsical childhood playtimes I had with my kids flooded into my painting. All our favourite things!

The bubbles continued to grow as it relived all the magical moments of childhood memories with my kids. Most importantly, God is with us in all the little details in our ordinary lives! The ideas conceptualised slowly but slower was my technique in learning how to use watercolours for this piece of work. I was very inspired by ah Guo’s illustrations. His bubbles effect was captivating! However, I needed to do my own style, so I tried many times and finally found the best way to paint my GrowingHearts. With the advice and encouragement from my artist friend Karen, I slowly refined my painting techniques.

After 3months, the cover page was finally born! By 2020 Dec I finally had all the illustrations ready. It was time to send for graphic layout of the manuscript.

My aunt was a special and unexpected help who tied up all the loose ends of proofreading. Finally, in 2021 March, I submitted my final copy of

  1. Cover and back page
  2. Manuscript
  3. Postcard illustrations
  4. Bellyband design

to the Printing company. (Thank you ZK for the recommendation!)

Throughout these three and a half years of writing and illustrating, I was juggling with work, three kids and church responsibilities. I can only say this book can be accomplished because Immanuel, God is with us! Last but not least, my three precious children, they are the reason this book was born. My life has never been fuller than now. They were shy about what I had written but agreed to share our stories with you all! I thank Yi for his courage to let me share about his growth, thank Bao for his ‘eagle eyes’ spotting of what edits I had missed out, and thank Tian for her artistic inputs on all my illustrations.

All Glory be to God! It is a privilege and honour to write about His story in our lives. I pray that this story will ultimately DRAW you and your children closer to the Lord Himself.

Meanwhile, we will be updating you on the book launch in late May or June!

Here’s a preview of my back page:

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7 comments

  1. Congratulations!!! 3 years of writing coming to fruit!!! It’s amazing!!! I thank God for ladies like you who never fail to always bring the focus back of parenting to Jesus.

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