My Johor Stories, the book

When I signed the Grant Agreement with Think City in February 2017, I did not know that it was the start of an eventful journey where my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, would end up at the No. 1 spot on the MPH Publishing, Non-Fiction Best-sellers list, for the week 14 July to 20 July.

A display of nostalgic artifacts at the launch event
This was achieved only because of readers like you, who are keen to have a collection of My Johor Stories in a book and to present it to others as a uniquely Johor-flavoured gift.

My book launch event was graced by guests in a veritable Who’s Who in Johor Baru list and I’m deeply honoured by the presence of everyone. It did not matter if the guests were titled or not because to me, it was particularly meaningful that everyone gathered for the event, wanted to be there.

Everything passed so swiftly in the event programme that only as I look at the photos now that I can recall with pleasure, the many Very Interesting People who were there.

It was my privilege to share this momentous event in what I thought was to be a small event but it turned out to be quite special. Besides Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, the guest-of-honour and writer of the Foreword for my book, there were a number of Datuk and Datin as well as a Datuk Seri.

Introducing Putri Zanina [Right] to Tan Sri Shahrir
Abdul Samad, the guest-of-honour, at my book launch
Cousin Karen, who had a full weekend of activities in Kuala Lumpur, made the effort to fly-in specially to accompany her mother to attend my event. I deeply appreciate that many family members and friends drove or took public transport from KL and Singapore to be present.

My friend, Ian Mak, braved the Saturday morning causeway traffic to come from Singapore and later when I learnt the he walked across the causeway to get here, I was choked with emotion. [By the time the event was over, I was an emotional wreck!]

There were many who marked their calendars and made every effort to ensure they could be present. And now I’ve got photos to see how they enjoyed meeting mutual friends and of course, witnessing my book launch.

Seen at MPH Bookstore in JB City Square
It was particularly special for me because the first editor whom I worked with under Travel Times of the New Straits Times, Putri Zanina Megat Zainuddin, also graced the event. It was especially meaningful that Putri, who once encouraged me in writing creatively, was present to witness this.

Now a contributing writer for New Straits Times, Life & Times, Putri even volunteered to do a review of my book as well as a news story about My Johor Stories!

Before the event programme started, guests were buying books from the MPH book sale table. I started the book project with no expectations but I’m deeply grateful for the positive response to my book.

At the close of the event, Linda of MPH Bookstore JB, told me with amazement, that in her 20-year career with MPH, she participated in many book launches but never before were the books sold-out. All the books – not counting the bulk pre-orders that were set aside – both hardcover and softcover books, were sold out at my book launch!

Bestsellers list week ending July 20,
published in the Sunday Star, July 23
Later I was told that in the history of MPH book launches, never before, even in KL, were all the books sold-out at a launch event. Not until my book launch on July 15, 2017 in Johor Baru!

On July 24, I received an email from Sze Mei, General Manager of MPH Publishing and it read:

"Dear Peggy,
My Johor Stories made it to the MPH weekly bestsellers list for last weekend!
Heartiest congratulations!!!"

This was followed by the list of book titles and author names, with my book title and name topping the list at No. 1.

It really doesn’t matter if my book was a bestseller or not, but to be added into the MPH Bestsellers’ list and hitting the Non-Fiction, No. 1 spot, is undeniably, an added bonus!

As I said, I couldn’t have achieved it without you, the readers. Thank you, ever so much!

Dr Neil Khor is holding a giant size
mock-up of My Johor Stories book!
I’m also ever grateful for the professional partnership of MPH Publishing and Think City, two reputable brands that go a long way to support the My Johor Stories brand.

The team with the venue sponsor, DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, did well in providing all that was necessary for the event programme to flow smoothly and I’m thankful.

Grace Chiam, who was instrumental in helping me with the venue for my event, went the extra mile for me. Having been relocated to Kuala Lumpur, I’m deeply touched that she took leave from work to fly in on a day-trip, just to be present. [She will be quick to tell others that I was her first friend in JB!]

Back in KL, she was in the MPH Bookstore at Nu Sentral, a mall adjacent to KL Sentral, and when she saw my books displayed there, she snapped a photo and shared it with me.

With GM of DoubleTree by Hilton JB, Daniel Alcaraz
I appreciate how the hotel General Manager, Daniel Alcaraz supported the event with his presence and in buying my books. By then, he had learnt that this hotel has a special place in my heart for many reasons, but especially its location across the road from where I grew up in our grandfather's house at No. 154, Jalan Ngee Heng.

Thanks to my friends at The Iskandarian for capturing the moments in photographs. I'm also thrilled that I made it to the cover of the August 2017 issue of The Iskandarian!

Thanks to Grace Chiam, for sharing this shot!
My grateful thanks to KK Lew of MAGistrate who produced a bite-size memento of the event in a little video clip. Its a bit comical to watch the speedy version of the series of events that included brief clips of the speeches by Dr Neil Khor of Think City and Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, the Member of Parliament of JB.

There was also a segment where Lew made guests say a few words in short messages and it was fun to see their spontaneous reactions. This video is extremely valuable because it is through this clip that I managed to have an overview of what was going on elsewhere while the book sale was happening and guests were waiting for their books to be signed...

All who were present will agree with me that it was a happy occasion, yet one that was super-charged with emotion. Thank you all for being part of it. 

P. S. Look out for a gallery of photos coming up in the next posts. 

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