Sunday, 29 November 2015

The first of the last

Friends and relatives are curious as to why I named my upcoming series 'The LAST diaries of Auntie Christina'. 'Why do you have to use the word "last", Chris?' they asked, the dismay apparent in their voices and on their faces. We fiftysomethings have a strange aversion to certain words...death, aging, funeral, sickness, wrinkles, dementia, ..and to a certain extent, last. I assured them that no, I was in no danger of passing on unless the Almighty deem it necessary to remove me in a jiffy. More blanching, head wagging and hand wringing when I said this. As if these natural responses would alter the Almighty's mind to remove me if they did so.  Yes, I have to use the word 'Last' because these are going to be my last diary entries. I can't be the curious case of Christina Jee. (Remember F. Scott Fitzergerald's "The curious case of Benjamin Button") Nor do I want to, even if granted the wish. Much as aging is unpalatable to me, finding myself growing younger and younger each day is even more unthinkable. For once, I just want to be normal and age and die just like every living thing on earth.

In the end, I said, 'Just consider this first book 'The last diaries of Auntie Christina 2014'  as the first of the last diaries I will ever write.' Most were satisfied with that declaration.

Then came the outcry. 'Why do you have to call yourself "Auntie"? I thought you were averse to that honorific.' Oh yes, I can remember well the first time I was called 'Auntie' by a fruit seller. I was choosing some oranges then.  My head reared up to incinerate him with my laser eyes. Oblivious to the negative vibes I was sending him, he tried to hard sell his oranges, lauding their sweetness to the skies. Needless to say, I left him to enjoy his magnificent oranges by himself.

Back at home, I stood before the mirror and assessed the image reflected in the mirror. An Auntie I had become. In Malaysia the honorific 'Auntie' is used as a form of kindly address to an older woman to whom one is not related. Needless to say, every normal female dreads the moment when she translates from a hot desirable 'Miss/Madam' to a motherly comfy 'Auntie'.

I had no idea when my own translation started taking place. I had been lucky. I was already into my fifties when this first (and certainly not the last) salutation occurred. And as with the first white hair, the first wrinkle, the first old age spot, I decided to embrace what is inevitable. Am I still averse to that honorific? Need you is now attached to my name online for the whole world to see!

Friday, 27 November 2015

After the wilderness years

The years 2012 and 2013 proved to be my wilderness years in writing and publishing. No...I did not suffer from writer's block. In fact I teemed with ideas. Started writing at least a dozen books. I would start off like a charging racehorse only to falter half-way and wonder why I was galloping on such a fine day. I would slow down to a trot and eventually drop out of the race before I reached the finishing line. Sometimes I spotted green juicy grass by the racecourse and skidded to a halt to graze. Then there were always nicer better racecourses under construction and I just simply had to try them out, only to lose my way and never get back to the original course. Sometimes I did get back only to find that I had no desire to gallop on that course again.

I knew I need one hell of a jockey if I were to reach the finishing line. That jockey appeared in 2014. Around the middle of 2014, the British author Sue Townsend passed away. Believe it or not, I did not know who she was. Asked my friend Rhona. Aghast, she looked at me as if I had committed the biggest literary crime in history and said, 'YOU don't know Sue Townsend? You've got to be living on Mars all this while.' Still treating me like one who should be shot, hung or given a lethal injection, she lent me the first of Sue Townsend's famed series 'The Secret Diaries of Adrian Mole'. By the time Rhona was done with me, I was beginning to feel like a Christian who has never heard of the Bible. All pique evaporated when I started reading.  Soon I was doing more than just reading the books. I was reading every morsel of information pertaining to Sue Townsend.

Sue Townsend

First book of the famed series
Rhona's collection

It was not long after that that I got the notion that maybe I could write something resembling the series, except this time it would be about somebody like me... Malaysian female about fifty years of age. I come from an age group that is wary of any effort to pigeon-hole them into stereotyped roles as they reach retirement age. Their antics and old age angst proved to be entertaining and comical. Being one of them, I set out to document my own twilight journey and theirs.

2014 was a perfect year to start a series. A year when three Malaysian planes dropped out of the skies. A year when the rest of the world seemed eerily calm...the lull before the storm. A year when I stepped back into the distant past and tried to recall the good times as well as the bad with my friends.

As I said, I found my jockey. It is time and its calendar. There is no way I can procrastinate or find excuses for not writing now. The days pass quickly, events happen and I am continuously pressured to  make entries in the diary. I try not to go past a week without making one. But then sometimes things do happen.  Should I falter I have to make up for the shortfall by fabrication. Hence this resultant book 'The Last Diaries of Auntie Christina 2014'  and all subsequent ones are 90% fictional and 10% truth. A fact that I am going to stress again and again.

Book photo credits go to Chew Swee Kee and T.Y. Wee

Monday, 24 December 2012

25.12.12 and I

It's CHRISTMAS again! Woke up early to go to church. Had a rush breakfast. The 'kids' (aged 28 and 18) would murder me if I dragged my feet because next on the agenda is opening presents. I got the most awesome gift ever this year. Will edit this post and tell you all about it later. But now I just want to inform everyone that my ebooks are FREE for a day again this year at Merry Christmas and happy reading.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The date 12.12.12 and I

There's something about numbers that really get people all worked up. The people most badly hit are, of course, those folks who buy lottery tickets. They see numbers everywhere. I had to delete a few from my facebook account because I thought I was beginning to think like them. Beginning to associate events, actions and people with numbers. Take for example this bee that has just invaded my wet kitchen. It looks like an 8. Feeling rather expansive and charitable today, I opened my window netting to let it out. Alas, poor thing fell into an old coffee jar where it is buzzing away madly right now.  That brings to mind another digit 0 resembling the mouth of the jar. Then I can either put in today's date and come up with the number 8012 or my house address and that will be 8030. Let's say I buy those numbers today. Hope wise and fantasy wise, I'll maybe hit millions but reality wise, I'll most probably be at least 20 dollars peoorer. See how crazy this state of affairs can get if one lets it get out of control.

So back to today's date 12.12.12. Every one's telling me what a great day this will be. Granted it's my birthday. Others may be getting hitched,  pushing their babies out into the world or starting a new company but for me it's just another day. I don't think I will be yelling my head off at the end of a bungee rope, standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower (let's forget Mount Everest) or looking for an unnamed species at the bottom of the South China Sea. The most memorable thing I'm going to do today is let everyone read my  ebooks for FREE. You can find them at

My ebooks on

Thursday, 6 December 2012

'Love misunderstood' and I

Sometime during the third quarter of the year 2010 I happened upon a website holding a competition for romantic Christmas stories. I decided to write one as I had long aspired to try as many genres as I could. Next came the difficulty of deciding exactly what to write. Okay, I had the 'recipe' for romantic novels down pat. The hero must be loaded. Body-wise, tall, muscular, handsome, smart. If he has a title in front of his name, even better.  Pocket-wise, cash flow unlimited. Must have property spanning half the earth.... The heroine should be feminine, full of grace, fair of face and complexion and utterly rescue worthy. The story has got to have a happy ending. Problem was that I am definitely middle-aged and I had grown out of Mills and Boon decades ago. Granted I did not think I needed hypnosis to recall what those heart thumping sensations were like but I had absolutely no idea where to begin. Went to the bookstores and found that most romance novels centered around the young. It seemed that romance had no place amongst the old. If I was a horse, that 'cowboy' of a finding really stuck its spur into me. I was now determined to write a romantic story about characters around my age group. Went online next. (I hadn't discovered then.) Still the same results. Romance was all about the young, young, young....

So there I was, chewing the tip of my pen when inspiration came in the form of a phone call. I picked it, said 'Hello' and nobody answered. It had been happening quite often of late then. Sometimes I would just pick up the phone and just listen. Sometimes I would slam down the receiver. And if I were in the midst of doing something important like cooking, I would let the caller know exactly what bodily harm I would do to him/her in person for his/her calls.

Well, as I always say, I can always make the most out of a bad situation. This time round, the minute I put down the phone, I dashed off to punch away at my computer. The end result is this story 'Love Misunderstood) AND it is really about romance between two middle-aged characters. You can find it at Would make a great gift to aged parents and relatives this Yuletide.

It's a pity those phone calls have stopped. If it ever happens again, I'm going to say 'Thanks'. Would pay big money  to see the look on the caller's face then. 

Friday, 11 November 2011

The date 11.11.11 and 1

Decided to celebrate the day 11.11.11 my way by publishing my short story 'Last Stroke of the Brush' for FREE this time. Has been saving this story for such an occasion. It has all the things that I personally look for when I read fiction. Foremost, entertainment. Next, current social issues. Oh, maybe not so current will suffice too. Remember Charles Dickens? Then food for thought. That's why I'm a sucker for Clint Eastwood's movies. They entertain and have substance for one to mull over. That's how I want to be remembered for my stories.....Yeah, her stories got substance.

This story primarily deals with the issue of street urchins, a universal problem. Here in Malaysia, people may argue that street urchins are not such a big social problem. I beg to differ. In certain towns, they are a problem. Kindly refer to the following newspaper article Many illegal immigrants from the islands of  neighbouring countries slip into Malaysia to try and find a better way of life. When cornered by the authorities they skip back into their own countries, sometimes leaving behind their offspring to fend for themselves. If you think that in my story the girl Su being raped at knife point and having a baby on her own is kind of far fetched, well, not too long ago, there was a newspaper article about a baby being thrown into a river when a female illegal immigrant was pursued by police just to avoid detention. If not nipped in the bud, this social problem will only bloom into something sinister that can threaten the security of our country.

Many thanks to my hubby T.Y. Wee for designing the cover (pic above) of my ebook. Oh yeah, that's my hand in the picture. My daughter Mel wasn't around when we two got into the mood of doing the cover. Not so smooth and definitely not so elegant but my hand would have to do. As the Hokkien saying goes, "No fish, prawns will do". I really have a hard time choosing which of the two final covers to feature this time. The other is depicted below. It's such a shame to chuck it away so I'm posting it below.
Hope you enjoy reading the story. Oh, food for thought for this story? That's for my next blog post. Coming SOON....I promise.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The 'Last stroke of the brush' and I

How many times have I sighed and thought 'Another one bites the dust' when  great achievers sullied their own names and achievements with their actions. Think Bill Clinton, Princess Diana, Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger and with the publication of his autobiography, Steve Jobs. He was undeniably a genius in his chosen field but as a man, well, eh....
As I look back over the ages, the casualty list is very long indeed.  Albert Einstein (pix above) came up with the equation of all times E = mc2 but was instrumental in urging President Roosevelt in building the first atomic bomb which was subsequently dropped on Hiroshima. One can just imagine the self loathing he had to live with until the end of his days knowing that he was responsible for the destruction that followed. Oh, one might argue that he was just one cog in a big wheel but remember, it all started with his equation. No equation, no atomic bomb, period! With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, time will tell whether Einstein will be responsible for the end of mankind on earth. 
Deng Xiaoping was lauded for his efforts in bringing about economic reforms and liberalization in China  but his name will always be synonymous with the Tienanmen massacre on June 4 1989.
The world mourned the death of Princess Diana (pix above) when she died tragically in a car accident on 31 August 1997. She captured the imagination and adulation of the multitudes with her beauty, charitable works and fame but one cannot deny that her personal life and loves were less than savory at the best of times.
At home here in Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak is highly regarded as a royal and a legal practitioner. In 1965, at the age of thirty seven, he became the youngest judge to be appointed in the Commonwealth. However, he was heavily criticised for his involvement in the toppling of the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Perak in 2009. 

What I am trying to say is that it takes just one heinous act to obliterate all the good that one has done in one's life. My short story 'Last stroke of the brush' is centred around this theme. Note how the main character Roxana was torn between the temptation to save herself or to save the street urchin called Jam just before the fire took her life. I sometimes feel that life is one minefield  and if one miscalculates and takes one wrong step, one's life is going to blow up in smithereens. In the story, Roxana has the luxury of ending her life, albeit unintentionally. For most of us, once blown up, we find that we can never get the pieces of our lives back together again. Needless to say, one needs a set of values to live by and I think the most important one is respect for life, be it human or otherwise. The attitude that 'Oh, it's only a cat.' or 'It's only a tree' should be discarded for they are forms of life that bring joy when treated right and trouble should they be abused. All human beings should be respected, not lusted after or used to further one's cause. Education, be it at home or otherwise, plays a major role in inculcating this value and I take this opportunity to salute those parents, guardians and educators who have done so. Sigh, only time will tell whether I have done my bit in carrying out this most important role as a parent.

So Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey....the world is watching how you handle every stroke of your brush. As for us ordinary mortals, we have our own little audience as we paint and may God guide us all as we fill up our own canvases.