Saturday, July 29, 2006

FHM Review

Ah, another one of those capsules to add to my list. This is the first magazine I've been on so far.


Local author Xeus offers twelve fiendish short tales that’s set against a backdrop of an Asian metropolis. Laced with local superstition, anecdotes and spiked with twists and deception, Dark City turns out to be a maze of intrigue that will set you off in a labyrinth of bizarre dimensions.
Don’t read when: At home alone at night.

Having my book translated into Malay at this moment. I still can't come up with a Malay title but my publisher tells me the translator will think of something. Great. Anything I come up with will resemble "Kota Gelap" or "Cerita Cerita Ghairah." Never got anything above a C3 in Malay.

I'm getting a new cover because many people complained this current yellow cover is too horror-like. And will put all my review snippets all over - translated, of course.

Malay books sell a lot more than English books, so I'm looking forward to it. Hope they won't lose the drift of the stories TOO much.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The things that make me happy: checking stock

Honestly, the things that make me happy nowadays have changed considerably from a few months back.

I was in MPH 1 Utama last week. And what do I do whenever I'm in 1 Utama these days? That's right - I check stock on their computer. I counted 19 books sold between a period of 10 days, which put a permanent smile on my face.

So much so that when I went for dinner in Shogun and went back for a 2nd round to check stock in MPH (pathetic, I know), I counted yet another book sold during the time I was at dinner. And was over the moon.

(I know, I know. I should get a life.)

When I was browsing through magazines, my ex-boss came up to me and whispered, "I have read 10 chapters of your book. Ssssh. The wife is around. It's fantastic writing and I've told everyone at the office to get it. I really liked the twists. In Coup of the Century, you wrote about (someone we both know), didn't you?" (His wife won't let him buy Dark City for fear of contaminating their two teenage girls at home. So he's reduced to reading it from the racks at MPH 1 Utama.)

I was at KLIA airport the other day too, and was dismayed to see my book not being displayed anywhere in the annex terminal bookstore there. I phoned my distributor immediately, and later found it was (oh) sold out.

Went to Kino yesterday and was gratified to see it still on the Bestseller rack (though as I mentioned, it doesn't mean anything. It's just for books they want to push.)

Of course, I don't get all success stories with all stores. There's one near my home which HASN'T MANAGED TO SELL even a single one of the 5 copies they took. And several more scattered all over the place which are really slow. (Apparently, most people buy their books from a few concentrated stores only, or at least, I'm going by that theory.)

But the ones that move do really make me happy.

(Yes, yes, I know I'm very pathetic and I will get a life now.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sun review

And here's the Sun review, which is not online as the Sun is not an online newspaper....


SUBTITLED ‘Psychotic and other twisted Malaysian Tales,’ this is a selection of short stories verging on the macabre. The author, who uses the pseudonym Xeus, scratches the soft underbelly of Malaysian life to reveal a seething mass of barely concealed dread.

There are 12 stories in Dark City (RM29.90) which explore everything from serial killers and ghosts, to terrorist cells and child kidnapping. Each contains a twist; some more apparent than others, while a couple are utterly shocking.

The first story, Psychotic, seems to be inspired by the Canny Ong murder. A waitress at a pub is kidnapped and taken for a terror ride, before being raped at a cemetery as a prelude to murder. At times, I found it painful to read the descriptions; Xeus (a fitting definition for the name in the Urban Slang dictionary is “sadistic genius that tortures people for fun”) milks the scene to the point of nausea, which I suppose is the point.

My favourite is The Resistance, about a terrorist cell that gathers to launch its fiendish plan against mankind. This remarkable story has all the elements of s suspense thriller as meticulous plans are put into play and a gathering storm sweeps through the narrative. The secret weapon revelation (though it is not explicitly stated) is, pardon the pun, a real killer.

Monster, on the other hand, is a tale that carries a lot of weight as it deals with events presently in the news. The plot concerns the only child of an ordinary middle income family – a spoiled brat – who is kidnapped and held for ransom. The family scrambles to pay the money but then something goes terribly wrong….

Overall, a good read. Some stories telegraph their ending, but remain entertaining. Everything is familiar, yet not so. This is KL as you fear to imagine it. – N. Shashi Kala

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Star review

I realised these were published before I created this blog, so here goes. Trying to create permanent links now.

Dark City: Psychotic and Other Twisted Malaysian Tales

Author: Xeus

Publisher: Midnight Press, Venton Publishing, 353 pages

HERE is an entertaining and creditable collection of short stories by a Malaysian author. It draws on the dark and unsavoury sides of human nature festering in urban life: sex, murder, rape, abuse, hubris, revenge, greed and unnatural desires are only some of the subjects. The themes are so universal that anyone living in any city in the world would be able to find similar cases in the daily news. Written in the traditional short-story style, all 12 tales harbour suspense and surprises along the way and a particularly vicious twist at the end. See if you can spot it coming.

A foretaste of the tales: Psychotic – On her way back home from work, a young woman is waylaid in a dark alley by a serial rapist who takes her on a long, terrifying journey. Will she escape unscathed? One If By Land – What is causing the inmates of a prison to drop dead under mysterious circumstances? A new prisoner is forced to play detective before he becomes the next victim. The Resistance – A terrorist cell gathers to launch its most fiendish plan against mankind. A semi-clairvoyant flight attendant is the only one who suspects them, but is she too late? The Maid – A desperate housewife, butcher’s knife in hand, finds the bloodied body of her Filipino maid sprawled across the floor. Did she do it or are there other sinister forces at work?

Available at major bookstores, and most independent bookshops and airport newsstands in Malaysia and Singapore. The author has chosen to publish under a pseudonym due to the dark and explicit nature of the stories. This is the author's first book.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Capitalism and August events

John Ling at has very interesting posts on capitalism and Karl Marx.

I have been in Vietnam a lot the past few months, and learnt a lot about their communist system. They are actually not communists anymore, they have turned socialist, though the communist party is still in charge. After listening to their entire history of poverty, lack of identity, lack of focus and power being in the hands of a few individuals, I have come to the conclusion that communism doesn't actually work.

Take a look at their current living conditions.

1. Vietnam was in shambles after the war.
2. Today, the average wage of a government doctor is US300 a month. They resort to working overtime in private and selling medicines illegally to substantiate their living. And that's for a doctor! What more the menial worker?
3. Healthcare is not free. Health insurance taxes each worker 6% of his monthly salary. Their payout for medicines is capped at US300 per month.
4. Things are expensive in Vietnam. An average meal in a coffee shop costs RM5-6. more than in Malaysia.
5. Workers go everywhere on motorcycles. Public transport is very poor.
6. Retired oldies get prescription drugs for their own ailments, but instead of taking their medicine, they sell them for money, thus endangering their own health. There is no retirement or pension scheme.

How to make the country richer? There is no other way. You have to let foreign investment come in and create more jobs for the people. Basically, you have to open your country to the world and not be isolated like a silo. Then with rising wages, you can levy more taxes, and your money pool will expand.

So my conclusion: capitalism actually DOES work, BUT with a MINIMUM WAGE. That minimum wage is to ensure basic living conditions are met, and FREE basic provision of human amenities (like healthcare and education) is a must for any society to work. Most countries in EU are following this proviso (Germany, Switz, Austria), and are largely content.

Boy, that was heavy!

As for August events, I have booked myself in a few:

Individual author appearance:
1. 26 August 2006, Saturday
1.00pm - 2.30pm
Entrance1, MPH One Utama Mega Store

10 September 2006, Sunday
3.00pm - 4.00pm
Courtyard, MPH Mid Valley

Topic: Can I make money off writing? How to make money $$ contributing to
newspapers and magazines.How you can write a story that will get published

I am also scheduled to appear with other writers at the MPH High Tea with Writers' workshop on 27 Aug at 1 Utama. I have also begged all my friends to attend these sessions so I don't show up alone. Dear Lydia has agreed (hugs Lydia).

I have also given my first interview to a local mag and will be doing another for a local newspaper next week. A newspaper has asked to serialize a couple of stories from my book. This is the first time they are doing this after more than a decade.

Will post more when they actually occur.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Is writing a full time job?

Lots of people come up to me and actually ask me: "How do you do it? How do you combine a full time career with writing part time? Where do you find the time?"

Well, if what they are really asking is: "If I want to write, should I quit my full time job to do writing, which is what I truly love?" (so many veiled subtexts in that initial question.) then my answer is an emphatic: "No."

DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. (If you have one)

To me, it is simple. If you want to be a writer, you need to pay your bills. And writing in our tiny markets won't do that for you. Even if you were to go international, most international writers do not make money the way JK Rowling does, not with the measly royalties the publishing houses offer. Most of them are hungry and starving. Most of them are miserable. Most of them are waiting for that big break.



The characters you meet in your daily life are muses. So are the experiences you go through. After all, 'The Devil Wears Prada' is one big "I hate my boss and she can't do anything right" rant.

Tired after a full day's work? Write only a bit each day. Write more during weekends. If you don't feel like writing one day, don't force it. Let the juices flow. But chip at it day by day, and at the end, you'll have a book.

And what separates those who have produced something from those who haven't? SHEER WILLPOWER AND DETERMINATION TO BE A WRITER.

Heck, if I can do it, anyone can too.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Reader's review

Searching around the web, I came across this reader's review of Dark City. I hope the blog author won't mind me reposting it :) You can see the original blog at

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Dark City...
My second book review...
The book... Dark City... and I'm particularly proud of this one...
Written by a M'sian who goes under the pseudonym of Xeus...
It comprises of 12 different stories... sharing a similar theme... which is...
It's first short-story says it all... Psychotic tells about a young woman, who was waylaid in a dark alley by a serial rapist. So the question is does she stay alive??? Or... is there something else about the story ( I would definately suspect the latter... ). Every story tends to bring out the same feeling within all it's readers...
At first, people will be thinking that each plot are extremely cliche... but by the middle part of each story, things take a twist... and each ending is definately unexpected !!!
Some of the stories, though, are only suitable for the upper-aged class of readers...
To many 'things' are written extremely in detail...
It took me aproximately 2 days to finish this 353 paged book...

Ok... so here's a list of stories in the book and a brief synopsis about each of them...

1. Psychotic : A woman struggles for dear life when she is abducted and raped... but does she make it out alive.. or is there more to this story....???

2.Trashcan Child : A lady takes in a trashcan child and treats her as her own... eventhough she had solemnly swore before that she would never have children... Will this baby change her mind??

3.One if by land : Prison inmates are dropping like flies and it's up to a sole newcomer to get to the bottom of things... But who's killikg all the inmates, one at a time??? The wardens??? The doctors??? Hmmm...

4.Session One : A wife struggles to keep her marriage intact, eventhough she's well aware that her husband has been cheating on her ( with her best friend !!! ). Will her therapy sessions help??

5.The scarlet women : A horny 16 year old finnaly gets to live his dream ( and a shallow one, I might add... ) of hiring a prostitute... but does everything go according to plan???

6.The six million dollar man : Who would be a prime suspect for your murder... a. your beautiful, extremely-nice-to-you-for-your-money wife; b. your 'I wanna be a chef and not go to Cambridge and you can't make me' son, whom you refuse to pay for his education other than the unversities you've chosen for him; c. your mistress, who's also a gold-digger; d. your not-so satisfied body guard, whom you last threw his cousin into jail for delibrately saving your life; or e. your business partner, who's all out to grab your business away from you... It's hard being rich !!!

7. Coup of the century : It's a dog-eats-dog world out there.. so you better watch your back... Tells about two rivals desperately trying to beat each other in a bid to own a Doberman...

8. The resistance : A lady forsees a deadly terrorist attack... but who would believe her... or will she be too late... ( This is the only sub-par story among the others... )

9. The maid : A cleaver in her hand... and a dead maid on the floor smothered in blood... Who killed the maid on the kitchen floor??? The housewife killed the maid on the kitchen floor... who she... yes she... couldn't be... but it's TRUE !!! ( insert music for the song ' Who took the cookie from the cookie jar...' )

10. Grave error : What if, one day, you wake up and suddenly find yourself in your own grave??? What would you do??? Who, do you think did this to you??? Are you really DEAD ???

11. Incident at Monkey Gorge : Three suspects. All girls. All related to the murdered in differnet ways. All of them were there when he died. Question : Who killed him and who's telling the truth??? Or is there more than meets the eye ?

12. Monster : Which is worst : A kid who gives both his parents tons of problems and is extremely ill-disciplined, a father who tries desperately to teach his kid a lesson and finnaly resorting to the help of kidnappers, or kidnappers who take things into their own hands and keep the kid to themselves for other 'purposes'???

According to the author, of these twelve, two are based on urban legends, one is a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe and the other nine are made up.... so which is which???

Read and decide for yourself...
But, I can gurantee you that it's worth every cent you spend on it... ( RM 29.90 )
Plus, it's Malaysian !!! The stories are closely related to our everyday life... all our miseries and sorrows...
Out of 5 ... it'd give it a 3.5 ....
But that's just me...
La la la la la....
( P.S. I tried retrieving the front cover of the book... but unfortunately, I couldn't find it... It was, however, previewed in The Star newspaper twice in the past 2 months...)

posted by The Easy Man at Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Marshaling Publicity

Ha, I'm back from overseas. Honestly, I don't like travelling so much, but what can I do? :(

How does one get press for one's book? Well, usually the publisher gives the press each a copy of your book and hope they review it/give it publicity. But more often that not, unless your publisher knows someone in there, the press won't pick it up. Sad but true. But you are competing with hundreds of other books out there? Why should they pick you above all others?

That's when you, dear author, have to come in.

It does help if you write for the very press who are going to be the ones to give your book publicity. At the very least you are guaranteed a review. But what if you don't know them?

This is where having a 'really thick skin' comes in.

I write for a newspaper and a couple of magazines. And even then, asking them to give me publicity is difficult. First, you can't control what they write. Next, you can't control when it comes out. You can't keep calling them either, because they'd get tired of you :) So you just give them what they need and hope for the best.

And what about the newsies and mags you have no affiliation with? If your publisher doesn't either, then it's up to you to march up to their offices and ask them very nicely if they'd do a feature on you. And yes, that is exactly what I did. Never mind if I don't know them - I went up to introduce myself. And in the process, I have made new friends.

A process goes like this:
ME: Hi, I'm the author of Dark City.
PRESS (aghast): No, you can't be.
ME: I am. Really.
PRESS: Uck! I can't believe you wrote that book.

My main problem on doing publicity for my book is that I'm a pseudonym, and I refuse when they want a picture of me. For them, no picture = no interview. And so I strain myself coming up with angles on how they can feature me. For the press, it's all about the angle of the story, otherwise you'd have to contend with a book review.

Note that all my publicity so far has been book reviews and an article I wrote myself in The Star.

I'm still trying to come up with the other angles they can feature me on without having to photograph me. Ideas, anyone?