Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passion, Patience, Perseverance

"I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy,” George Burns once said, “than be a success at something I hate." This most definitely applies to writing.  It applies to life, too, doesn’t it?

Two weeks ago, The Power of Five  was such a success for me trying to sell my writing assets that I upped it to ten last week and this week also to ten to end September on a high note, to make up for what didn't get sent out in August and the first half of the month.  Enthusiasm breeds discipline just like success breeds success. If something is working, stick with it, make it a habit.  Turn it into a game.  Play with the numbers.  How many can I send out before I break for lunch?  How many before I call it a day?  What else can I do today to help myself move my career forward?  Finally, I’m getting my work out there on a consistent basis. I’m letting editors and agents also know that, hey, I have something of value that you might be interested in. 

Come October, knowing that I kept my Power-of-Five commitment into its third week, I'll do the daily double, advancing a major project in the mornings and marketing my work in the afternoon, day in, day out for an entire month.  I want to face both fears each day and see what magic I can create. 

There’s a fine line between success and failure and the difference is fear.  We often fear, on a subconscious level, both failure (being called a loser or a washed up writer) and also success (all that hard work to get there and the pressure to stay there–that second novel syndrome).  That explains why we so sometimes “drop the ball”.  Why we suddenly misplace important information that’s critical to our success (a document, an important email address), or procrastinate until the last moment, thus guaranteeing that we do a rushed job to beat the deadline, if we complete it in at all. Or we make ourselves too busy to get around to the important career-making stuff by busying ourselves with busywork!   “Look, I’m so busy!”  But busy doing what?  Been there, done that, too.  

These are all self-sabotaging actions that’s caused by our unconscious belief system that we “don’t deserve success”, or “that we’re not good enough” or we’re afraid we’ll be “exposed as a fraud”.  Who me, a best-selling, award willing novelist?  Ha! 

Writing can be scary, but the only way to overcome fear is to face it, acknowledge it, and do that what you fear—write that novel and market and sell what you write—and have faith in your own ability.  It all begins with passion!  If you don't have passion in what you do, you won't have the patience to complete it, nor the perseverance to see it through to its ultimate success.  This stuff is not easy, but it is doable. Others do it all the time; for them it's routine.  It's all about psychology and your attitude, isn't it? 

Besides, on the other side of that fear, on the other side of that self-imposed brick wall, is what you want.  I’ve learned over these past six months since leaving teaching that fear doesn't get you anywhere!  It merely holds you back, even paralyzes you into inaction!  So now I'm focusing on what I want to achieve, giving myself deadlines to accomplish it, and have the faith that in the end that it'll all work out because passion, patience, and perseverance will see me through. 

Passion is what life’s all about.  If you don’t have passion in your life, in your marriage, in your work, in your writing, how do you expect to succeed?  If you’re not passionate about what you write, how do you expect others to feel passionate about it?  It’s that passion, I’m finding out, that keeps me writing.  It’s that passion that makes me patient for success.  It’s that passion that allows me to rewrite that novel one more time.  And it’s that passion and also the patience that allows me to persevere, to hang in there, knowing that I’m only a failure when I give up writing, when I find more excuses not to write than to write.
So, the question is, are you willing to do what’s necessary to achieve your goals?  A good place to start is with your own power of five.  What five things can you do today that will take you a step closer to achieving your goals?  It’s important to ask yourself the right questions, and then to think and write down your answers. Of course, the most important step of all is to take immediate action.  The longer you delay, the more you guarantee it won’t get done. Do it now while the thought is there!

Now this may seem silly to some, but every morning, when I do push ups in repetitions of five (that power of five again), I say: 1) I’m 2) a 3) best-selling 4) award-winning  5) writer.   Besides merely exercising, I’m changing my belief system, so I can power-of-five my way through the fear, through the day.  Because I know that on the other side of that fear, success is waiting for me. 
                                                         -Robert Raymer, Borneo Expat Writer

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

**Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Neighbours": Comment: Are You Mrs. Koh? by Denis Harry, NST 28/8/10

After meeting the students from SMK (p) Sri Aman Petaling Jeya in KL who were studying my short story "Neighbours" in SPM Literature, you can imagine my surprise when I came across Denis Harry's article  "Comment: Are You Mrs. Koh?"  Denis was writing about my character from "Neighbours"!  It came out nearly one month ago! No one even told me!  I guess it's like that, you figure, oh, he'll see it, or someone else will point it out to him.  When it comes to good news, I'd rather have one hundred people tell me than no one at all!  Now that I know, I feel absolutely delighted, honored,and humbled.  Mrs. Koh, a character I invented twenty years ago, based loosely on one of my neighbors, has just become a stereotype for the busybody gossip in Malaysia!  Please don't be like Mrs. Koh.  Here's the article, in case you missed it:

Comment: Are You Mrs. Koh? by Denis Harry

Neighbours by Robert Raymer is one of the stories from his book, Lovers and Strangers Revisited. To get more tips on writing, visit his website at www.BorneoExpatWriter.com

There is a Mrs Koh, the central character in Robert Raymer’s magnificent and well known well-known short story ‘Neighbours’, in every one of us. DENIS HARRY writes why we should be wary of the Mrs Koh type that who is lurking somewhere waiting to pounce on her next promising victim.

STORIES are often inspired by real-life situations, although some elements in them can be fictional. It is not uncommon to go through pages of a novel and be struck by such parallel circumstances which you could relate to. The character George in Mark Haddon's A Spot Of Bother, for example, may remind you of your ageing father at an early stage of dementia. Being able to connect to Joan River's endless struggle in her memoir Enter Talking may reduce others to tears as it did to me.

Dealing with a dimension of miscellany, Neighbours, a fine work by Robert Raymer in Lovers and Strangers Revisited, highlights Mrs Koh as the central character. She fabricates stories to create rifts between neighbours. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Maybe this is because there are many Mrs Kohs in this world, people who really are venomous, vicious and potentially damaging, ready to trample on whoever stands in their way.

Raymer is spot on in creating Mrs Koh's character as she is portrayed as someone we both love and loath at the same time. When you hear her loud voice mentioning someone's name in high decibel, you know she wants your attention and she knows she gets yours.

On the other hand, deep inside your heart you keep praying that she does not talk about you. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all have a certain degree of nosiness. Sensational stories surely catch our alert-as-a-rabbit's ears. Unfortunately, they come with a hefty price tag.

Mrs Koh is someone we would call a nosy parker. Sometimes spelled "nosey parker", this is a person of an overly inquisitive or prying nature. In real life, you can never argue with whatever a Mrs Koh says; she is always right.

In addition to that, she knows everything and wants you to be aware of that too. Here is the sad irony: someone like Mrs Koh may appear warm, friendly and welcoming to those on first encounter with her. Her ability to crack jokes and make fun of other people's flaws and sufferings make her a "people magnet", drawing in audience the moment you anticipate she is going to say her first word.

Let us get real for once: most of us would find it amusing and secretly prefer to see someone trip on a sidewalk than ascend to a great height. It is human nature.

Mrs Koh can be found everywhere: in families, at workplace and -- consciously or not -- in you. At my workplace, these gossip-hungry vultures are dying to be updated on the latest story -- which are sadly true tragedies -- and add their own words, morphing it into a piece of sensational journalism. They somehow find joy spreading stories which, in turn, have profound effects on the people suffering the humiliation.

I can still vividly recall more than 10 years ago a female colleague who suffered from an abusive husband who not only savagely tortured her physically but mentally also. A well-known nosy parker at my workplace found out about it and, because she sat near me at the time, yelled about it at everyone passing by, offering to share the latest and juiciest story ever.

I was shocked and disgusted by her fascination and obsession with other people's sufferings that should never be made public. Within two days, everybody knew about it. My poor colleague, God bless her, faced the crowd with such strength and dignity it put Leslie Cheung to shame.

What about you? Could you be as strong as my colleague when you reach to a juncture where everyone knows the details of your private life? As we are all different, we deal with issues at varying levels of acceptance and tolerance. The mortification that a nosy parker can bring simply cannot be underrated. Many are damaged beyond repair by it. The result of a Mrs Koh's behaviour can sever many ties: friendships, marriages, families and it could possibly cost you your job.

In Neighbours, Mrs Koh hypothesised about Veronica's gambling addiction and its trail of debts that follows ("Every Sunday she plays mahjong and I'm sure she's in debt!"), she triumphantly stated the fact that Mr and Mrs Leong were fighting that morning (She turned to her husband with an I-told-you-so look on her face.) and even dared to cross the line to suggest that Johnny was dead. When her husband denied the latter suggestion, Mrs Koh quickly snapped, "He's as good as dead".

So what can we do to avoid being the next potential victim? The biggest favour you can do yourself is to zip up your mouth and talk only when necessary. God knows how these conniving nosy parkers would turn around and use your words against you in future.

You might praise a co-worker who always donates generously in front of your friends, for example, without realising that there is a pair of ears which should not be there. This pair of ears belongs to an evil individual who can easily twist and claim she heard you saying the person donates because he wants recognition.

Secondly, when life's sadness and bitterness are wearing you down, do not be tempted to confide in someone you barely know although he or she may seem like a sympathetic and trusted good listener no matter how fraught you are. A nosey parker usually has an open face that lures unsuspecting first-time victims. These new victims typically fail to smell a catastrophic future brewing -- a perfect recipe for disaster.

Lastly, don't turn into a Mrs Koh. Turn off the internal switch you consciously realise you have it or not in you permanently. It is a mammoth task if you are used to gossiping but the benefits would outweigh the harm it can bring -- by a million tonnes! Not only will you enjoy healthy relationships at work and home but people would also like you more for they can trust you with their confidences. Unless you are desperate to be as popular as Mrs Koh, why create rifts when there is not much love left in the world?

• Denis Harry is an educator with a great passion for literature and the parallels in our everyday life. Email him at denisharry78@gmail.com

To separate the fact from the fiction, here's the link to The Story Behind the Story of "Neighbours".

*Ohio University is also adapting another story from Lovers and Strangers Revisited, "Home for Hari Raya" into screenplay and film

**Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited
***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for the French translation of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, Trois autres Malaisie.
 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Creative Writing Now: An Interview with Robert Raymer on Writing Short Stories in Malaysia

A fellow Ohioan from Cincinnati, an expat living in Spain, interviewed me for their writing website which is read mostly by Americans.  She had read my media post  and gave me the option to do my replies by email and thankfully limited the questions to four, which centered around my writing in Malaysia as an expat. 

Although I was born in Pennsylvania, I moved to Ohio when I was nine, in the third grade and stayed there through high school and attended Miami (Ohio) University, just 20 miles north of Cincinnati.  After graduating, I backpacked through Europe, moved to Colorado, Wisconsin, and to Penang, Malaysia, and now Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo).  Suddenly I've feeling nostalgic for the best time to be in Ohio, autumn, as the leaves start to change colors and the geese start flying south for the winter.  I never liked those winters, either! 

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Cycle of Success and The Power of Five

Success, according to Lisa Jimenez in Conquer Fear!, is a cycle of enthusiasm and discipline.  When you lack enthusiasm to do something, that discipline had better kick in, and when it does, that brings results, and results bring more enthusiasm, and enthusiasm brings in more discipline which bring in even more results, and this is where you want to be in the success cycle.  Still, it all comes down to discipline, doesn’t it?  For a writer, discipline is what you need to produce results, whether it’s five pages written, five query letters sent out, or five stories submitted.  This is what I call The Power of Five.

Robert Collier said, “Success is the small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”  So I keep Power of Five reminders on my computer table, on my computer, and in my 3-5 keep-me-motivated goal cards.  I know, overkill.  But I don’t want to escape those reminders and that’s good – so long as I actually do it!
Well this week I did.  Among doing other things, I finally submitted five short stories each day for five consecutive week days.  So that’s 25 stories out this week.  For a mailing, that’s not particularly huge.  In the past I’ve done more than 25 in one day on several occasions.  But then weeks would go by, months before I got around to sending out my stuff again, and I got a lot of stuff to send out.  Maybe 200 or more of what I call writing assets, be it articles, short stories, novels, screenplays, plus about 50 more that could be written fairly easily, then there are query letters for articles that I would like to write, and letters to agents and publishers that I need to get out if I really want to take my writing career to that next level.
    
During the years that I was teaching writing full time my efforts at marketing my work or myself as a writer were erratic at best, and now I want to change all that.  I want to be more consistent in my approach to success.  The Power of Five is my answer.  I learned about this from Jack Canfield’s Rule of 5 in The Success Principles.  He and Mark Victor Hansen would do five specific things that would move their goal toward completion, to get Chicken Soup for the Soul to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List.  It took them a year to make the list and another year to make it to the top.  Those five things, day in and day out, created this momentum, as they pushed a huge rock up the best-selling mountain, but when they reached the top after two years, going down that other side was much easier.  They now reaped the benefits of what they sowed.  The Chicken Soup for the Soul series went on to become the publishing phenomenon of the decade.

For me, if I apply my own Power of Five every working day (Power sounds more powerful than Rule), it will require discipline.  After awhile, this discipline will become habit, so even if I don’t feel like doing it, even if I lack even a spark of enthusiasm, the discipline will kick in, then the results will come, and then I start seeing the possibilities and I get really excited, and I enthusiastically, send out some more.  This is the energy I felt this week.   Sure most editors will say, thanks, but no thanks, but every now and then, one will say, “We love it!”  That’s how I recently got my 100th short story publication! 
 
When I start doing this for the small stuff, like short stories, I start thinking about the big stuff, like novels and screenplays, agents and movie deals. It has always been about submitting, submitting, submitting what you write.  Already I can see the possibilities.   If it works for others, and not just for Jack Canfield, maybe it’ll work for me too and that’s worth finding out.  So come Monday (or maybe even this weekend), I’ll send out five more.  In fact yesterday, I actually sent out six, and that sixth one was a biggie, to a publisher in the US for a collection of short stories.  See, already I can feel it’s working and that after one week!
 
So what five things can you do today that will take you a step closer to your goals?  

Of course my wife just found five things for me to do around the house, but that’s ok.  We’re in this together. I definitely want to keep our marriage in a success cycle, too.

              -Robert Raymer, Borneo Expat Writer

*Here's a link to more on Lisa Jimenez and a video too.

**Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal based in Hong Kong is running a blog series on meeting the writers who will be in their next issue, out later this month. Yesterday they ran one on me for “On Fridays” and stated, “Cha does not normally reprint works (apart from the "Lost Teas" section). So, when we do republish a piece, it has to be very good.”

Talk about raising expectations! They also added a link to both my blog series The Story Behind the Story and my website. I think it’s a cool way to introduce the writers and to create momentum (and literary excitement, at least for the writers) in the month leading up to its publication.

You get to read the writers’ bios, their blogs and websites and explore other links to their work. When I first realized what they were doing I naturally began to checkout the other writers whose company I will keep in this issue. I even found a friend in Maraget Lim, who I first met on the set of Kuppa Kopi. Then it dawned on me that she was the one who had recommended that I send something in. I had sent in another story and I thought, why not "On Fridays" and its story behind the story? I was hoping they would see the benefits of both together for their readers.

Plus you get to see what the writers look like. Too often in literary magazines, you get the story, the poem, the essay, a name and a really brief bio, and that’s it. You can only imagine in your mind what the writer looks like (and guess at their age). Now you can see what else they are into, other than merely writing.

So while Cha is introducing me to you, let me introduce you to Cha. Here’s the link to their website and to their blog.

If you’re a writer, note their submission guidelines. and deadlines for several upcoming issues. I did.

I really like what they are doing. They are even highlighting recent publications of those writers who have previously appeared in Cha, proudly keeping them (and now adding me) in the literary family.

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited
**Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BookFest@2010

Tropical Affairs didn’t win, so no two years in a row for me, but I did have a nice time. I finally met with Lydia Teh, whom I wrote “The Merdeka Miracle” with last year. Too bad Tunku Halim couldn’t join us.


I also met with authors Kuan Guat Choo and Peggy Tan Pek Tao, a former colleague of mine at USM, and this year’s winner for non-fiction for her book Life The Malaysian Style. So that’s two years in a row for USM!

Afterwards I met with Yvonne Lee, who gave me a copy of her latest book, Madness Aboard! for writing a blurb inside, after we met at the BookFest last year. I also caught up with Lee Eeleen, who has been making headway with lots of her short stories lately, reminding me about a big opportunity to publish some of my own short stories in Singapore that I overlooked! I also met with several MPH representatives, including Eric Forbes and Shirley Ng, whom I’m in contact with constantly over marketing and publicity and ordering books. She been extremely helpful!


After managing to miss me last year when I won for Lovers and Strangers Revisited though he did get to see the trophy before I headed back to Kuching, Zaini, who features in Tropical Affairs, cut one of his classes to give me some family support. When walking with him, all the teenage girls check him out!

The following day I was back with Zaini at the BookFest to meet with Christina Chan and eleven of her students, who are studying my short story “Neighbours” in SPM literature. One of the students, Shorolipi, had contacted me on Facebook, and within days, thanks to their teacher, we had an impromptu meet-the-author-session with lots of questions about “Neighbours” and writing. I may have even inspired one or two to become writers. Although I think they were more taken with Zaini….A friend of theirs wrote on Facebook, “Did anyone get his number?”


This is the press release that I wrote for the education section of the Star. Shirley, who coincidentally attended the same secondary school, contacted the press on our behalf, but they were short-handed for reporters. I’m still waiting for the official photos from Popular.



Press Release: From Facebook to Face-to-Face BookFest Meeting with Author Robert Raymer

Shorolipi Emma Chaudhury of SMK (p) Sri Aman, Petaling Jeya who is studying Robert Raymer’s short story “Neighbours” in SPM literature noticed that he was on Facebook and decided to contact him. Within days, she and ten of her classmates and their teacher Christina Chan and another colleague were meeting with Raymer, author of last year’s Reader’s Choice Award winning collection of short stories Lovers and Strangers Revisited (MPH 2008). As luck would have it, the Sarawak-based American author, who’s latest book, Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s life in Malaysia (MPH 2009) was nominated for this year’s prize, just happened to be coming to Kuala Lumpur to attend the BookFest@ Malaysia 2010.

While exchanging a few Facebook replies, Raymer directed her to his blog series The Story Behind the Story of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, to “Neighbors, a Suicide and Making Choices” in Tropical Affairs, and to a MELTA forum for some insights into the story and how he wrote it. When Christina Chan learned that Raymer was coming to KL, she asked if it would be possible that he meet her and her Form 4 students, which he gamely agreed. Raymer suggested they meet at the BookFest, which then turned into an impromptu Q-and-A session about “Neighbours” and about writing.

“What’s a better place to meet an author than at a super huge bookstore?” Raymer quipped. “I thought that meeting them might be fun and that, perhaps, I may even inspire one or two to become writers.”

Christina Chan agreed and told him afterwards, "I honestly don't think the students anywhere actually ever get to meet the authors whose stories they are studying. That's why my girls are very privileged to have met you."

Raymer, however, felt the privilege was all his. He was tickled to learn that several of the students were involved in putting on a play based on his short story. He even met the student who would play the busybody character Mrs. Koh!

Although in the past students studying his short story in SPM literature (or other stories in Malaysian universities and private colleges) have contacted him on Facebook, through his website http://www.borneoexpatwriter.com/, or his blog on writing, this was the first time they actually got to meet! And it happened so fast!

As a bonus, the students also met Raymer’s 19-year-old son Zaini who features in Tropical Affairs as a boy growing up in Penang. Yeah, they added him to Facebook, too!

Several students and their teacher even managed to pick up autographed copies of Raymer’s books, all thanks to Shorolipi’s Facebook initiative that quickly turned into a face-to-face BookFest meeting with the author—something they’ll never forget.

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

**Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

“On Fridays” from Lovers and Strangers Revisited—my 100th Short Story published!

“On Fridays” from Lovers and Strangers Revisited—my 100th Short Story published!—will be reprinted in Hong Kong-based Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. Cha is also providing a link to my blog “On Fridays: The Story Behind the Story” sending the Story Behind the Story blog series international with its first literary magazine connection. “On Fridays” has now been published 13 times!

Amazingly this is the 78th publication of one the *17 stories in Lovers and Strangers Revisited. Recently I reconciled all of my short story publications, discarding those that were previously accepted but never published (I had several from LSR, including “Mat Salleh” in the US, a big disappointment). I thought the LSR number was somewhere in the mid-to-high 60’s, maybe higher since I added in those last two stories for the MPH collection, but then I had overlooked “The Stare” which I had added to the Silverfish version (replacing “Moments”), so those three stories added 9 more LSR sales. I cross-checked the total with a separate year-by-year LSR sales and sales of each individual story to make sure they tally. It’s official, 78!

The biggest year for Lovers and Strangers Revisited was 1992 when I had 18 sales followed by 1991, with 11. The years 1988-1993, prior to the publication of the first collection by Heinemann Asia, I had 48 sales, a pretty strong testimony, especially in light of so many collections being pushed out the door or even self-published by teens without any prior publishing track record. Beginning with the year 1986 when I had my first three sales (“Mat Salleh”, twice, and “The Stare”), a story from Lovers and Strangers Revisited has been accepted for publication at least once every year—except 1998, 2000 and 2002—for the past 25 years! And Hong Kong is the 11th country where a story from Lovers and Strangers Revisited has been published.

The only story from the collection that has not been published remains “The Watcher” though it came awfully close in the US, when another story of mine from the collection beat it out for a place in Thema. “Moments”, which I had dropped, was published once in Malaysia.

Important milestones for the collection, after its initial publication in 1993 in Singapore, was in 2005 when a professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia contacted me about including the collection in his course on postcolonial writing from Malaysia and Singapore, which prompted me to contact Silverfish and they agreed to republish the stories after I insisted on revisiting them. In 2006, “Neighbours” was selected for SPM literature (and taught in UKM, where they set up a discussion forum for the story on the MELTA website), introducing the story (and hopefully the collection) to countless teachers and students. The first story from the collection to be taught (as far as I know) was “Teh-O in KL” from the original collection in a high school in Canada.

2008 was also important when I switched to MPH to make the books available in Sarawak where I now live (which prompted several more rounds of editing, an addition of two stories, and a really cool cover!). In 2009, Lovers and Strangers Revisited won the 2009 Popular-The Star Reader’s Choice Award in fiction, validation and testimony to the longevity of these stories that I first began to write in the mid-80’s—now being taught in universities and private colleges throughout Malaysia.

Here’s the publication breakdown by story with a link to each The Story Behind the Story (except for “Moments” which was dropped for the revisited collection).

13 – On Fridays
8 – Neighbors/Aftermath
7 – Teh-O in KL
7 – Sister’s Room
7 – The Future Barrister
5 – Dark Blue Thread/The Watermark
5 – Waiting
4 – The Station Hotel/Joking
4 – Smooth Stones
4 – Symmetry
4 – *The Stare (added to Silverfish version, replacing “Moments”)
3 – Only in Malaysia (added to MPH version)
2 – Mat Salleh
2 – Transactions in Thai (added to MPH version)
1 – Lovers and Strangers
1 – Home for Hari Raya
0 – Watcher
1 – Moments (dropped after original Lovers and Strangers collection)
78

In addition to these 17 stories, I have also published 13 other short stories 22 times (most are set in Malaysia) including “The Merdeka Miracle” that I wrote with Lydia Teh and Tunku Halim.

* Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

***Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life & Style - Personality of the Week


Here's the link to my first online interview that came out today in Life & Style, lifeandstyle.com.my. Eight questions are asked and the answers are kept short, and I tried to make sure each one is quotable. They did a nice job with this, using a black backdrop, and putting my two book covers side by side. Notice the titles of the book are reflected upside down on the table for a cool effect!

I'm sure there's a way to copy and paste this website page into the blog, but every way I tried it seemed to backfire and created additional problems, forcing me to shut down the computer a couple of times. Then there's the possible matter of copyright infringement, so I thought it's best to leave it as it is. By the way, not a bad follow-up to yesterday's post on "Getting known through the media or anyway that you can".

And as a follow up to that, just want to add that when you’re being interviewed, keep a reminder list of what to include, in case you forget, like your website address or book titles or key points that you want to make. I also keep some reminders to cut down on what you have to say because usually there's space requirement and if they have to cut it themselves, they may cut out the wrong stuff, and leave the lesser important stuff, or they may overlook a good quote and choose instead a poor one. This was great advice that I received from Daphne Lee of the Star when she asked several opened ended questions and I had a field day answering them. I'm glad she did a great job editing it! Also, I remind myself not to be flippant with any of my answers. It might be my gut reaction, or something off the top of my head, or I'm merely having fun, but being flippant rarely helps you in the long run and you may miss an opportunity with some further probing to come up with something rather poignant, even quotable. In fact, try to make everything you say, quotable, so if they randomly choose a quote you can live with it!

Of course this is hard to do when you get a phone interview, so now I prefer email interviews. They may take far too much time (several hours!), but the writer in me will make sure all the answers are good, error free, by going over them again and again, plus it's going to be pretty hard to misquote me, and I can feel comfortable with the interview and stick it on my website under the media section. On phone and face-to-face interviews, I have to keep my fingers crossed and hopefully sigh in relief once I see it in print. But in most cases, I cringe, and some important facts invariably come out wrong, or worse the interview with some horrible or totally wrong quotes serves no purpose and I can’t even use it, a missed opportunity!

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

**Here's the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.