My Johor Stories, book review

On Sept 16, Malaysia Day 2017, my book review by Putri Zanina Megat Zainuddin was a 2-page feature in NST Life & Times Pulse. In the closing paragraphs, Putri wrote:

A two-page spread in NST Life & Times Pulse on Sept 16,
view of the online version 
“She attributes the New Straits Times, particularly the newspaper’s past pull-out sections, the Travel Times [rebranded as Life & Times Jom] and Johor Buzz for her prolific writings on Johor in the early years of her foray into the mainstream media.”
I do indeed! And I also attribute my success with Johor Buzz, [rebranded as Johor Streets] to former JB Bureau Chief, Shahrum Sayuthi, for the opportunities and encouragement to contribute to this Southern section of the newspapers. This pull-out section ceased to be published after Dec 2014.

Just before 10am on Malaysia Day 2017, MPH Publishing general manager, Sze Mei, sent me a photo she took of the 2-page spread of Putri’s review. MPH was then discussing dates with me for a Meet-the-Readers event at their bookstore in 1Utama.

The two-page newspaper spread!
At about 11am, I received a message from Intan Maizura Kamal, Life & Times Pulse editor, with a reminder: “Hi…don’t forget to get today’s NST!”

Thanks for the reminder Intan, I certainly did not. I deeply appreciate how the 2-page spread for my book review turned out – complete with old photos from my book!

When I thanked Putri for her glowing review of my book, she replied saying: “I’m happy it turned out so well.” And ended with a question: “When is your appearance in KL?”

I met Putri for the first time in the offices of The New Straits Times at No. 31 Jalan Riong in Kuala Lumpur. She was then editor of Travel Times, a pull-out section of the NST newspapers, dedicated to travel related news and stories.

As in most interviews, I felt rather nervous. I had responded to a print ad in the Travel Times seeking writers and as requested, submitted a few sample pieces of my writing with my application.

It was simply nerve-wracking, waiting for her comments on my writing but Putri quickly put me out of my misery. She told me the interview was just a formality for them to meet me in person and assured me that my letter of appointment should be received in the next two weeks!

And that was the start of my working relationship with Putri.

I still remember how she used to encourage me with brief comments on the words and phrases I creatively coined and while I was their Johor-based writer, she often gave me assignments with interesting travel experiences.

On her retirement, Putri continued as a contributing writer and I went on working with the newspaper, rebranded Life & Times Jom and the new editor, Zalina Mohd Som.

When I told Zalina, now Editor of Travel & Food, about my book launch, she said: “Wow! That is awesome! Congrats Peggy! So proud of you, so proud of Travel Times too for being part of this milestone.

When I invited Putri to my book launch in Johor Baru, I was thrilled that she not only accepted my invitation but also told me that she will write the book review. To me, it was such a privilege for my former editor to review and comment about my book!

MPH Non-Fiction Bestsellers list for week
ending Sept 7, published in the Sunday Star
Meanwhile, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage continues to appeal to a host of readers and kept my book on the MPH Non-Fiction [Local] Bestsellers list for consecutive weeks since its launch in mid-July 2017.

As I said before, its a bonus to be on the Bestsellers list. Just getting the book on the shelves and sharing my stories with readers was all I wanted to do.

Yet I’m ever grateful to all who appreciate what I shared in my book and I enjoy getting interesting and sometimes amusing feedback from readers. Here’s a recent example:

“Yes, the kuaci!” a friend quoted what his grandmother said and how his mother unanimously agreed when they discussed my story about the old cinemas in JB. They could relate to what I wrote as they recalled their own experiences with kuaci or toasted melon seeds, a popular snack – before the popcorn era – while watching movies!

Two days ago, I received a Facebook message from a reader who wrote: “I was in Borders yesterday and saw a book written about Johor. When I flipped the pages and saw the photos, it triggered off a memory recall…” and she went on to introduce herself.

This message not only reconnected us but reminded me of a conversation I had with Sze Mei some time ago. She told me Borders bookstore was receiving enquiries on their website for My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and to meet this demand, they ordered a consignment of my books.

So now, in addition to MPH bookstores nationwide and on line via my books are also available at Borders in Kuala Lumpur!

Speaking about KL, I’m so looking forward to meeting my readers there very soon!

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