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 https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jeesuresucceed1. 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 https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jeesuresucceed1.


My ebooks on Smashwords.com

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 Smashwords.com.) 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 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261424. 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 then 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' http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/104043 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 http://www.theborneopost.com/2011/09/08/child-and-street-beggars-increasing-in-tawau/. 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' http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/104043 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.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Those stately homes and I

You will see them wherever you go in this world be it in India, USA, UK, Russia or Malaysia. You can't help noticing them for they are imposing structures. They were, and still are,  men's way of announcing to the world at large,'I have made it!' These are the stately homes belonging to the rich and the maybe not so famous. We stare and gawk at them, 'ooh' and 'aah' should their owners allow us to enter them but generally I think we all baulk at the idea of managing these huge structures. In Margaret Mitchell's epic novel "Gone with the Wind" we learn how Ellen managed Tara, the sprawling majestic home she took over when she married her husband.

In Kuching, we have our fair share of such structures. I am particularly taken with those with some history behind them like the one above. Unfortunately these buildings especially the wooden ones do not last long. Many were taken down to make way for more modern ones, a few are dilapidated and a number have been converted into enterprises like the ones below.


Since young, I listened to the tales and intrigues that invariably come about when large families totaling 20 to 30 members try to stay together under one roof. Sometimes as many as five generations attempted to do that. The Chinese especially loved big families and considered it a badge of prosperity to be able to produce one. Needless to say it takes an imposing character, usually the patriarch or matriarch to keep the whole brood together. Either by nature or design, these characters had one trait in common - they were able to hold their families together through sheer strength of personality. They might look ancient, small in stature or gentle in manner but these alpha beings would not counter any resistance to their commands. Just take a look at the line-up in the first picture and I think you can easily pick out such a character.

As time goes by, living together under one roof becomes more of a hassle than a convenience. This is especially so when women folk start receiving proper education and working outside the family circle. Hence many of these big families break up to stay on their own. My story 'For Want of Better Things to come' http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/96590 deals with the the dying throes of one such family.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

My first short story and I

Just released my first short story entitled 'For Want of Better Things to come' http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/96590 on Smashwords this morning. It was a breeze! Thank God. I had the jitters because this is the first time I did my own formatting and despite going through the Smashwords Style Guide countless times and following its instructions religiously as recommended by all the other authors who used it, I confess I still had butterflies in my tummy when I pressed the 'Publish' button. Oh, and I was quite sure those butterflies were going round and round inside my tummy as I held my breath and watched the circular thingy rotating on my computer screen as my manuscript was converted into the different formats.  Hah...now that it's done with, I can grin impishly and say, 'Well, as they say, it was quite easy.' Believe me, it is easy. I just thought it was hard and as we all know, when we think something is difficult, it will automatically be DIFFICULT.

For a few hours one Sunday evening, my hubby and I converted our living room into a makeshift studio (pix above) in order to take photos for the book cover. Jewellery both fake and real, was taken out for use. Earlier on, I had approached my Mum to borrow one of her heirloom pieces to make the cover more realistic. She dug the one I wanted out of hiding (Even I do not know where she hid it) and handed it over to me with some misgivings. I swore on my Girl Guide's honour that I would guard it with my life and return it pronto.

Many thanks to my hubby for taking time out to design the book cover for this story. He relished the task so much that there were many versions of it. I really had to put my foot down when he came up with one with my name encrusted with diamonds.(pix below) It made my book too much of a chick flick, I complained.

The hands on the cover are my daughter's. Thanks, Melissa, for your patience in putting up with your exacting parents. Hubby took heaps of pictures before I finally decided on the one I like.

This short story is greatly influenced by  renowned author Roald Dahl. A few years ago I read a collection of his short stories and was impressed enough to try my hand at emulating his style. In this story, the reader will have to decide what happens exactly at the end. Hence I decided to conduct a contest at the end of the story. The participants will have to figure out who the woman in the epilogue was and why she behaved as she did. I'm putting up USD5.00 as prize money. The result is to be announced on Chinese New Year day next year on this blog and my facebook account.http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003035200051

This short story was initially scheduled for release around 9 October but as I mulled over the idea of holding a contest based on it, I thought it wiser to ask Smashwords whether it is permissible to do so. An email from Smashwords came on 14 October stating the idea was fine as long as I kept the contest out of the descriptive metadata. So I went ahead with it on 15 October.