Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Self-Publishing Industry

The perennial late developer, I arrived late for the self-publishing party and had to read a lot of the comments on Writers’ forums to understand the industry. Some of the people who have worked in-house for publishing companies say they don’t trust the information on these forums but I take the common denominator as the truth. While it may be true that unqualified people are passing themselves off as editors on these forums, it’s also true that many wannabe authors don’t have the funds for the more experienced and more expensive editors.

In "in-house" work, there are usually many staff members and each is assigned a certain task. For instance, one person does the graphics and book covers, another does the index, another does the structural/development-editing and another does the copy/line editing, proofreading and another does the promotion and marketing.

With regards to self-published authors, these "solopreneurs" have to do as much as possible on their own to make their project cost efficient. They write, self-edit with and without software, get beta readers, rewrite, and get the manuscript pro-edited if they can afford it. They sometimes design their own covers, upload to Amazon by themselves, as well as promote and market their books. These solopreneurs have to be respected for their multi-talents and commitment to their vision and passion. They have suffered much in the trial and error stages and have to be appreciated for sharing their experiences so that those who come after them will be spared the same trials and errors.

When I first got onto the scene, I was wondering what should solopreneurs do if they don’t have the budget for pro-editing? Should they give up on their goals to publish or should they go ahead and publish the self-edited books? The forums were clearly warning newcomers not to engage the cheaper editors on offer as they were “not professional” enough. Even if that is the case, what are we going to do if we can’t afford the “professional” fees of an experienced and qualified editor? Especially for wannabe Asian writers and others from third world countries where the fee of a professional editor in US dollars is equivalent to five months of minimum wage or more. When I was new on the scene, I encountered the sharks in the industry who asked for 9 cents a word for editing. That horrified me as it was the equivalent of the price of a low-cost house in many parts of Asia. In some parts of the world, that kind of money can buy a few low-cost houses — houses that could house the homeless.

Coming from Asia myself, of course, it would be hard for me to justify spending that kind of money on pro editing. So I settled for the other option. I took the view that everyone has to start somewhere and even an inexperienced editor is better than having no editor at all. I knew I had to find an editor who could edit non-fiction/metaphysical/Tai Chi so I took a leap of faith with an ex-newspaper sports editor who offered to edit for a flat fee. More importantly, he would not take any payment upfront. He was happy to be paid after he delivered his work. His charges are like this:

Copy Edit: $150
Line Edit: $200
Proofread: $200
Developmental: $300
Any Two Options: $250
All-of-the-Above: $400

I settled on the first two on the list for USD 250.00. I know it’s not the ideal thing but I did my own proofreading to save some money. I am good at proofreading because I am not a speed reader. I read word for word, line by line and so I am able to spot errors. I proofread both editions of The Dance of the Chi about fifteen times in total and each time, I found myself shortening sentences, adding sentences, tweaking the punctuation, formatting, and spacing.

My second editor offered free editing to go with the fees for some graphic work and indexing. He offered free editing as a sample edit because he was interested in working on my next two books. He offered to charge me half a cent per word with a 20% discount. My first editor contributed to the presentation of the content and prompted me to elaborate certain parts. He set me straight with the commas in and out of the parenthesis. He prompted me to be clear about my choice for the single and double quotation marks, and upper and lower case words and abbreviations. He attended to the nuance of the language and shared his opinion of my material. Overall, he gave very encouraging feedback.

My second editor was on point with the tweaking of the graphics from the first edition and did acceptable work with the indexing for the paperback version and references for the eBook version. His questioning led to the inclusion of an Author’s Note. Some people say editors are a pain to work with. That’s because they question and probe what is not clear to them and that causes a bit of rewriting and finessing but isn’t that what they are paid for? My second editor appeared to be editing the work of the first editor where punctuation and grammar were concerned. He also contributed further to the presentation of the content.

Both editors contributed what they could to the revised edition of The Dance of the Chi. Are they good/professional enough? I have nothing to compare them to, so I can’t say. I don’t know what a cent a word or more cents a word editing is like as I can’t afford them. All I know is, even after both editors had done their work, I still had much to do on my own. I can only assume this is the same with the expensive pro editing. No one will love our creations as much as we do. No one will invest the amount of patience and care that we do. We have to take on the responsibility of dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” I’ve read comments on the forums to this effect. Even after professional editing, we have our work cut out for us.  I can’t complain about my two editors as they stepped up for me with their offers of affordable, positive, encouraging and favorable feedback.

From these two separate experiences, I can say that editors do have their own filters and if they are not familiar with the subject or the genre, writers will find they have a lot of explaining to do. However, I find that could work in our favor as the editors represent the readership out there and if they are confused about some things, we have the opportunity to clarify, elaborate and/or tighten the manuscript. Of course, all these services can be rendered for free by writer friends if you are lucky enough to have such qualified friends for beta reading.

When I first published, I thought I might be able to make writing books a career. Yes, go ahead and laugh; it’s hysterically funny, isn’t it? Two months later, I realized that self-publishing is not about creating income to pay the bills. Not for most writers, that is. Still, I continued to write with the view to publishing; spending my savings on the projects because I have some things to say and I need to say them before I go. As David Icke says, "When you're passionate about something, you find a way."

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Area of Expertise?

Asians are raised to be modest so we don’t as a rule, handle compliments well. We are taught to downplay our assets and strengths so if people tell me I’m beautiful I’m to respond with: No! You need a new pair of spectacles. If they tell me I’m smart, I might say: You’re not too dumb yourself! Recently, a regular on my social media pages alluded to my “authority” on energy, vibrations, and chi. My cultural training clicked in and I made a joke to deflect the compliment. As an afterthought, I realized I should stop doing this as I’m a metaphysical writer. I write about energy, vibrations, chi, the EFAW (Evil Forces At Work) and esoteric stuff. People expect me to know what I’m writing about. I can’t expect to be taken seriously if I don’t “own” my area of expertise. If I’m not an expert on energy and forces, why should anyone believe what I say?

If you’ve been coming to my social media pages lately, you might have noticed there are quite a number of posts to do with narcopaths. Narcopath is a catch-all term to describe people with cluster B personality disorders. This includes the narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths. It feels like I have been taking a course on how to identify them, deal with them, avoid them and move on from them. Hence, in retrospect, I now understand that my parents were on the spectrum of narcissism, even if they were mostly just regular people with personality disorders doing their best to live their lives and raise a family. My parents were probably like most people on the low end to mid-range of narcissism. On the extreme end of the spectrum are the NSP’s (narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths) who make careers out of their narcopath disorders. These are the ones who spend a lot of time on social media trawling for victims. They don’t have regular jobs and they use their victims as energy and “income streams.”

People like to say “go with the flow”, but that only works if the flow is a positive current, not a negative one. When you meet a narcopath, do not go with the flow. These narcopaths need the pure and positive energy of the empaths hence they target empaths as a rule. As well, empaths are known to be more kind, compassionate and giving, so they make good “supply” sources. If you discover you are actually dating a narcopath, for sanity’s sake, do not continue with the flow. Turn the other way, cut your losses, go no contact, protect yourself from the love bombing (if you’re at that stage), devaluing (if you’re at that stage), or the triangulation, ghosting or hoovering (if you’re at those stages). Whatever the stage you find yourself in, the quicker you get out the better your prognosis for a full recovery.

In my opinion, narcopaths want or need unconditional love. Why else would these sicko’s push people to the limits of their endurance if not in the hope of experiencing unconditional love? Healthy people know love relationships are based on good behavior, mutual respect, consideration, and trust. NSP’s are found even among religious leaders and every level of NSP’s have their “Flying Monkeys” to aid them in their dirty tactics of bringing their victims down. Flying monkeys are usually gossipers or people who listen to gossip. If you don’t want to be used as a Flying Monkey, do not listen to or spread gossip. "Gossip is murder by character assassination."

Predators don’t hook up with other predators for neither party fancies being the prey. Sometimes, NSP’s are forced to deal with other NSP’s in a business or political setting and then the bigger predator wins. I use the word “win” because NSP’s divide the world into these two classes of people – Winners and Losers. NSP’s label kind and compassionate people as “Losers.” Most narcopaths would prefer to stick to easier prey. Most don’t prefer to take on their own kind. With their own kind, they only exchange negative energy. With empaths, they get their fill of pure, positive energy.

Experts say narcopaths’ number one fear is abandonment and rejection. They say NSPs (narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths; not to be confused with NPDs (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) aka narcopaths, can’t stand being rejected or abandoned. That’s why they fly into rages and punish and/or threaten anyone who threatens to leave them. When their love bombing and impressing you stop getting them the results they are after, they know you are seeing through their fake personas. At that point, they either decide you are not good victim material and move on to the next supply or they take revenge on you by any means.

The following was lifted off various YouTube videos:

Once you unmask a narcopath, you expose him for the fraud he is and when you reject a narcopath, you are rejecting the false self they have so carefully constructed to impress you and to victimize you. Psychologists say once their false self is negated, their entire reason for existing collapses since whatever true self they may have left is completely inaccessible to them and the false self cannot survive on its own. Their false self is completely dependent on the approval and attention of others, who it feeds from like a vampire. When a narcopath is rejected, he is forced to confront his own emptiness and nothing scares him more than that. He has done everything to avoid confronting who he truly is and the narcopath will try to destroy anyone who threatens to expose him to himself or to the world.

Narcopaths hate being made fun of or to be made to play second fiddle to any activity in their victims’ lives. They may laugh cruelly at the misfortunes of others, and they may chuckle at the discomfort of someone else especially if the discomfort was caused by them. Most narcopaths are sadistic and have no empathy. They treat other people like objects for their entertainment.

Experts say for a victim/survivor, success is always the best revenge and the healthiest way to move on. I’m not comfortable with the word “revenge” but I agree it’s best to move on. We move on by focusing on what we want; not what we don’t want. We move on by focusing on what we can do; not on what we can’t. We must stop giving our energy to the narcopaths. People should be warned that the evil is very real and the narcopaths never change. There is no such thing as an ex-narcopath. Once a narcopath, always a narcopath.

Yet, there is always an exception to the rule. I read of a case where a child psychopath was cured of her illness and grew up into a normal, loving, human being. But the odds are stacked up against them. Research has been inconclusive as to why narcopaths are the way they are. Some studies say it’s in the genes yet siblings don’t all turn out to be narcopaths. Other studies say it’s to do with their upbringing yet siblings raised the same way by the same parents don’t all turn out to be narcopaths. I say, if we leave the soul and EFAW out of the equation, we won’t be seeing the whole picture. The soul and EFAW have to be factored in. Would you take a chance on a narcopath to change? Many have and many have been destroyed by the narcopaths’ trails of destruction.

Many survivors have taken to YouTube to expose their narcopaths and to share their stories and lessons with these narcopaths as a way of validating their experiences and to do meaningful work to help other victims and would be victims. The abuse, they say, is beyond what is acceptable in society and they want to stop these narcopaths from doing more harm. They consider this an evil that must be exposed.

I recently realized the reason my whole life has been about coping with narcopaths (in various degrees on the spectrum), is because I was to develop my EFAW theory and demonstrate my beliefs to the world as a published author. Spiritual teachers tell us at some point in our lives, we will be called upon to demonstrate our beliefs. My time is now.

Being of a metaphysical and spiritual nature, I find myself trying hard to take something positive from my narcopath experiences. If it’s true every event has something to teach, some good if we look hard enough, I want to dig deep to find what even the crazy, destructive experiences with narcopaths may leave us. So I came up with these following points. Victims and survivors, please don't strafe me over this exploratory pattern of thoughts. I'm just trying to appreciate the big picture.  Granted, for most victims, the pain and suffering endured by being on the receiving end of the narcopaths’ evil madness render them incapable of forgiveness much less being able to see any positives from the experiences.

-  Even if they were not being sincere during the love bombing stage, the emotions they invoked in us were real. They made us smile, laugh, and we did feel joy in our hearts for as long as the fake "love relationships" lasted. In this sense, the narcopaths leave both their positive and negative marks on us. We just have to find something positive to take away from life's otherwise negative experiences.

-  When narcopaths mirror us to manipulate us to like them or fall in love with them, they show us who we are. And when we respond to who they present themselves to be in the beginning stages of the "hit," we know what we are looking for in other people. There is some clarity offered up there.

-  Since there is currently an epidemic of narcopaths around the world, it means there is no short supply of victims. It means there are a lot of empaths and good people around to feed these narcopaths or else they wouldn’t be proliferating at this rate. Knowing there are so many good people around should warm our hearts and give us hope.

-  I wish to set an example of accepting responsibility for my narcopath experiences. I wish to stay compassionate and calm in my assessment of the situation.

I finally understood what my latest narcopath’s strategy was in publicly announcing himself to be an “ex-NSP.” He just presented himself one day, on my social media page and announced he was an ex-NSP. Not only that, he also announced he was a recovering alcoholic, was recently homeless and that he had spent some months in jail. He said he would wear his past and that his life is an open book. I asked him why he was here and what he wanted from me. He replied he didn’t know. He said he was just going with the flow. (It rhymes! Lol …) By doing that, he came across as very honest and I would give him the benefit of the doubts. What a masterstroke in cunningness. What a master class in NSP deception. By telling you he was all these in the past, you would look and feel bad if you held his past against him.

The Chinese believe that if a bad person is able to change his bad ways and become a good person, he is better than a person who had never been bad. The Chinese believe such people should be given the chance to turn over a new leaf and that we should help them achieve this by not turning away from them.

Today, I believe he initially came to me for some help. I believe he had done some research on my background and he hoped I would be able to assist him in his personal energy battles. He was savvy enough to discern that he had a problem with the EFAW. I believe he thought that being an energy expert, I would be able to guide him and that he could learn from me how to cleanse his energy. It was his soul that was reaching out for help.

He was not wrong. I used to have a shaman friend (who I write about in Different Realities), who would take on cases of the EFAW aka demon possession. At the very least, the shaman would advise people what to do to neutralize the EFAW that was disturbing them and preventing them from being the best versions of themselves.

The more this latest NSP would share with me of his horrible past, the more I felt pressured to show him unconditional love. It was as if I was being tested or more accurately, it was as if my spirituality was being tested. He would tell me that as soon as he disclosed his past to others, they would all “run away” from him and he would say to me, “you can run away now.” Of course, I would try my utmost not to run away. I always thought it was not fair for society to tell us, “Honesty is the best policy” and then when someone chooses to be honest, society would punish this person for his honesty. I wasn’t going to punish this “ex-NSP” for being honest, was I?

He needed unconditional love. He needed help. He hoped I would step up for him and I tried. I felt the EFAW energy driving his behavior and actions at times, across the distance of thousands of miles and toward the end of the “experiment” (I believe that was what it was for him), we both knew the game was up. When the games began, he had announced: “The music has begun; shall we dance?” I actually felt a chill in my body just reading those words at the time. After three months of what seemed like effort on my part and what I know must have been entertainment on his part, the music ended and we stopped “dancing around the pole.”

What saved me from this latest NSP was that he was only a virtual connection. As long as I remained true to myself, my path and purpose, he would see that I am not good victim material and he would go away sooner rather than later. For the past ten years, I have been able to expose narcopaths within three months as long as I stick to my boundaries and let them expose themselves and disappear quickly so I don’t waste too much time and energy on them.

Especially for romantic links, I think it’s safer for women to stick to traditional models where the male is expected to do the wooing. Traditionally, the male gives to the female first. That would protect the woman from narcopaths as the narcopaths can’t give much or for long without wanting something in return and they will expose themselves in quick fashion.

Are you familiar with the saying, if we are looking for people with no flaws to be our friends, we will have no friends? Well, I usually get into trouble when I make it a point not to be too judgmental. Being judgmental is using discernment. Without discernment, our experiences and knowledge count for nothing. When I lower the bar, the quality of friends get lower and lower and before I know it, I have another narcopath in my life!

Just as narcopaths have their “harem” of victims to fall back on for energy, entertainment, sex, money, favors, etc., the rest of society also has a “network” of contacts for some of these resources. Most of us generate our own energy so we don’t need that from others. Most of us like our own company and don’t need others to entertain us. If we need sex, most of us need it from only one partner or we choose to be celibate. Most of us create our own income streams and work hard for the money to pay our bills.

What that leaves are favors and services. Healthy networking will allow us to have a pool of contacts to exchange favors with and/or for paid services. No one is so strong we couldn’t do better in life with a support system. Only the narcopaths go about it the selfish, destructive way. They enter fake relationships based on what they perceive their “prey” may be able to do for them.

Healthy people have narcissistic traits as well but on the lowest end of the spectrum. We are told that is healthy and necessary to a degree because it's helpful for us to feel a bit special. These traits aid the confidence that allows us to take risks, put ourselves out there to be judged or simply to flirt with an attractive stranger. We know relationships are about giving and taking; you help me, I help you. Nothing wrong with you scratch my back, I scratch yours. If narcissism is a continuum, then a diagnosis of pathological narcissism sits at the very end of the spectrum.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Frauds Online Alert

Today, I’m writing about Ann.
Ann was/is a Ph.D. in Nutrition working in India, Vietnam, Cambodia and other Asian countries as Advisor to local environmentalists on crops – how to stay organic and away from GMO products.

While here in Malaysia, Ann joined a local university as a lecturer. About six months into this teaching position, Ann met a German Caucasian man on the internet. He told her he was also a Ph.D. in Nutrition and shared pictures of his life, his place of employment and children back in Germany.

I’m not sure if he told Ann he was divorced or separated, but he invited her to Germany for a work associated visit. This man told her he was holding a Fair for activists to fight GMO products. This man even paid for Ann’s expenses to Germany supposedly for her lectures.

Ann took a week’s leave of absence from her work at the university to fly to Germany. At the prearranged hotel suite, she waited for a knock on her door as the German man was supposed to visit and take her to the venue of her lectures. 

(Here I’m thinking the narrative could be different had she taken the precaution to meet at a public place instead. But then, after six months of correspondence, Ann already felt comfortable with the German man and was there as a friend and fellow activist.) 

Ann went to Germany for this event as she was at that point, barred from a number of Asian countries for her anti-GMO lectures. When Ann opened her hotel room door to greet the German man, what she saw were three Nigerian black men who quickly accessed the room and explained that they are a syndicate with this kind of modus operandi. Apparently, the German Caucasian man Ann was communicating with via emails, face chat, and even videos, was a member of this syndicate. They were so sophisticated in their operation; Ann had even “verified” all his “credentials.”

So, the Nigerian syndicate wanted USD50k for her release. Ann had depleted all her savings at that point because of her long running activist activities so she had to turn to family and friends in the USA to come up with the (relatively small) ransom.

She survived the ordeal but when she returned to Malaysia, she lost her job. Ann was sacked from her job due to a prolonged leave of absence without prior notice. The university sued her for breach of contract after she made claims of salary due to her in terms of tens of thousands in Malaysian Ringgit. (1 USD = RM 4.21.) My friend who assists with patients at the General Hospital here met her while she was there seeking treatment for her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Apparently, Ann had breathed in too much chemicals in her line of work. Ann is an example of why it’s so hard to trust people you meet on the internet. The world is so crazy as it is.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Self Publishing: an Update

Debate over what the “correct” price should be for eBooks is ongoing. Unless you have an established reader base, anything over $5 will stall eBook sales. Some argue that $3 is top tier for indie publishers.

I am not in a rush to publish this time around. The first time I had self imposed a dateline to discipline myself to achieve my goals. The process was manic and desperate toward the dateline. I was jumping over so many hoops to launch my website believing it was the way to market eBooks -- bypassing Amazon, and remaining free to do what I wanted.

Before the launch, there was an average of 600 visitors a month to my ‘Work In Progress’ web page and I thought they must be waiting for the book(s) to be released. Why else would they have visited the page only to see an announcement that the books would be available on the site when it was ready? As it turned out, they were curious to see how I would market my books with the new model. I was the only one rushing. Now I am taking my time. Writers are the only ones in a hurry to publish. No one is in a hurry to read our books.

I learned that the public won’t use their charge cards on a site that is not well known and trusted; even if the payment goes through PayPal. People don’t want strangers knowing the details of their charge cards BUT they don't mind Amazon and other huge internet companies having them. The debate over what the “correct” price should be for eBooks is ongoing. Unless you have an established reader base, anything over USD 5 will stall eBook sales. Some argue that USD 3 is top tier for indie publishers. I was offering my books for USD 5. Enough said.

There was no compatible editor in sight so while I waited for one to show up, I kept self-editing my books over and over about a dozen times -- word by word, line by line. So much so I finally understood why some books still have errors in them even after a professional edit. I realized the fewer errors there are in the manuscript when it is submitted for pro edit, the more likely the finished product would be error free. Editors are human beings. They read through the manuscript once and they correct what jumps out at them as errors. If they were to read the manuscript a second or third time, they will still be able to catch errors that were missed at the first run through.

Even after publishing, I will continue to edit as I see fit because, like me, my books are never going to be the finished product. When I grow and learn new things, my books will grow with me. I will keep on updating to make it current and relevant to the times. So eBooks will work better for this.

Re social media pages. Before I created my own, I would think nothing of dropping dissenting comments on other people’s pages. I honestly thought I was adding quality to the pages by offering a different point of view. Why not share another side of the issue, right? When I was ignored by page owners and regulars, I used to think that it was wrong for people to behave so clannishly. Now that I have my own pages to maintain, I see that owners of pages have no time to engage with dissenters or people who may just like to argue for argument sake or to get attention. Owners of pages have to focus what spare time and energy they have on their work and “their people;” people who buy what they are selling. I quickly understood that on social media, we take what we can use and just move on. We don’t hang around and risk being called a troll. What’s a troll? 

According to Wikipedia: “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.”

Imagine when we post something and ten or more people show up with dissenting comments. As page owners, we are pushing our own messages and agenda. We are representing our own ideas and philosophy. So if others don’t agree with us, they should just move on and find a page that they can feel at home on. Or perhaps start their own pages. Energy is finite. We have to conserve our energy for the battles that make or break us. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

What Have I Read?

For some time now, I have been thinking about sharing the kinds of material I have read since people assume because I’m a writer, I must have read a lot; especially of the classics. English is not my mother tongue and I took up serious reading only in my twenties. Malaysia and Singapore have a peculiar brand of spoken English. In Malaysia, it’s called Manglish and in Singapore, it’s called Singlish. Both are a mishmash of the local National language and various Chinese dialects. Most of the local people don’t speak proper English and my writing style tends to be basic and simple.

I developed the reading habit as I said, relatively late – in my twenties. It started with the books and magazines that were passed down to me by my family of friends and budget travelers who were mostly Caucasians. At the time, Colleague One was a Psychic and Colleague Two was a Palmist and I would hang out with them and their foreign clients for a social life that was out of the ordinary. I didn’t have to leave home to meet the world; the world came to me.

These travelers were usually adventure and/or spiritual seekers out to taste the world or “find themselves” on a shoe-string budget. When they were done with their reading material, they would hand them over to me. These ranged from Time and Newsweek magazines, Readers’ Digest, History to Metaphysical and Spiritual books. When these ran out, I would hit the second-hand book stalls for autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, more Metaphysical and Spiritual books. 

Our local libraries don’t carry the kinds of material that would interest me. Books from second-hand book stalls were supplemented by assorted books that were passed on to me by yet more friends and contacts. Books in my country are relatively more expensive than in most other parts of the world. Even buying from Amazon, the shipping cost of the books is more than the price of the books themselves. Outside of the USA, there is no free shipping. I was thankful I did not have to buy a book until I was in my thirties and they were Astrology, Numerology, Palmistry and Oracle types of books. As well as Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga, Herbs, Gems, Essential Oils types of books.

I have since given away the books that I didn’t think I would need for reference. I am a de-clutterer and we de-clutterers tend to de-clutter. So I can’t go to my book shelves now to share the titles of the Top 100 books I’ve enjoyed or that have impacted my growth the most.

I have managed to go to storage (boxes with silver fishes!) to see what books I have kept to come up with a list of my reading material to share in this write-up. Too many loved books and “old friends” were given away as I didn’t want to burden myself with them, moving as I did, from rented house to rented house. I felt that good books should be shared so I parted with gems like ‘A Brief History of Time’ (Stephen Hawking), 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’, and many, many more I can’t recall as of this writing.

The books that are still in boxes (collecting silver fishes) are:

  •        Tao Te Ching
  •        Chuang Tsu
  •        Lao Tzu
  •        I-Ching
  •        Chinese Pa-Kua
  •        Astro Psychology (Karen Hamaker-Zondag)
  •        Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse)
  •        Drinking Tea, Living Life (Visuddhacara)
  •        Dancing Wu Li Masters (Gary Zukav)
  •        The Teachings of Don Juan (Carlos Castaneda)
  •        Tibetan Art of Living and Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche)
  •        Conversations With God -- the trilogy (Neale Donald Walsch)
  •        Supernature (Lyall Watson)
  •        Assorted Tai Chi, Wushu, Yoga, Guasu, Oracles, Gems, Precious Stones,       Sacred Science, Astrology, Numerology and Philosophy books.

Just off the top of my head, here is a list of some of my favorite books:

1. The Godfather series – Mario Puzo (bought at second-hand bookstores – since given away)
2. Papillon -- Henri Charri̬re (bought at a second-hand bookstore Рsince given away)
3. The Teachings of Don Juan -- Carlos Castaneda (a gift)
4. Dancing Wu Li Masters – Gary Zukav (passed on to me)
5. Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche (passed on to me)
6. Drugs and Magic – George Andrews (bought at a second-hand bookstore)
7. Conversations With God (the trilogy) – Neale Donald Walsch (Book 1 was a gift. Later, I gifted someone with a new copy of Book 1)
8. The Third Eye -- Lobsang Rampa
9. Almost all of Shirley MacLaine’s books (all now given away)
10. Assorted Biographies and Memoirs (all now given away)
11. Assorted History, Philosophy, Reincarnation, Astrology, Numerology, Oracles, Metaphysical books (Mostly given away)

What have I been able to take away from the reading?

  • We are all basically energy; or stardust. Everything else is just humans making a lot of sh*t, creating drama and stirring more sh*t. Low vibration stuff.
  • As a semi-recluse, I stay away from as much sh*t as I can. I survive as a human being until I don’t. We survive every single moment until the last one.
  • I have reflected upon all the reasons people lose their lives. I have reflected upon how much I have sacrificed to be healthy. I have thought about how much others have to fight to stay alive.
  • When the going gets tough, just remember to breathe. Deeply. We get our second wind that way.
  • We can all survive on the planet if we can get back to basics.
  • The brain is the hardware; the books, the data. What we put in, we churn out. So we need to choose our reading material carefully.
  •  Books we read stay with us longer than the shorter reading material we scan on the internet. It takes me days, weeks or months to get through a book at my own pace so it has a greater impact than social media reading.

There is a saying that people who read the same books make good friends because in general, “No two persons ever read the same books.” -- Edmund Wilson

Here are a few more quotes about books and reading:

  •         “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” -- Charles “Tremendous” Jones (I know … who? :))
  •         “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”  John Green
  •         “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” William Styron
  •         “The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.”W. Somerset Maugham
  •         “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”Toni Morrison

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Kiss It

Most of us don’t have the time or interest to read long blog articles so I make it a point to kiss it (keep it short and simple). I hope this is short enough.

With the discussions over refugees’ desperate attempts to find a safe haven in Europe and other developed countries, my own opinion on this issue was slanted heavily towards compassion when I recently had to pack for what might have been an emergency trip.

I took the opportunity as an exercise to ask myself what I would take with me should I find myself being forced to leave home abruptly not knowing exactly where I was going and for how long. It took just a few seconds to register that wherever I go, I have to take my body and my mind. Those two things are not an option to leave behind. :)

Very quickly I noted that I would prioritize the things that I need to stay safe, healthy, productive, progressive and expressive. I stuffed a carry-on backpack with important travel and identity documents, charge cards, journal, notepads, pens, vitamin supplements, first aid, medicine, bathroom things, hand sanitizers, mosquito repellent and a change of clothes. I also included my laptop, tablet, camera, battery chargers, batteries, and cables. An external hard disk and data sticks made their way into the “priority” backpack as well. (I am aware not all of these things would be prioritized by war refugees. They probably would prioritize lots of food, water, blankets and sleeping bags. I was packing for a trip; I was not packing as a refugee would.)

I looked around the house and asked myself what else I would be missing if for some reason I was not able to return to my house where all my “stuff” is kept. I decided that I would have to keep safe all my original song lyrics with chords plus the extra external hard disk and extra backup data sticks that store my original works in progress. That was it. (My creative babies are obviously my soul’s expression.) My dogs are my children/companions. I would leave them to friends if I had to make a trip but if I were leaving the country as a refugee and couldn’t bring them along with me, that would be a potentially mental-breakdown-type of decision to make. 

I realized what people mean when they say one is not rich until we have something that money cannot buy. I was okay with having to leave behind everything that money could buy but I was not comfortable with leaving my two dogs behind. Even if I had good friends to leave them in relatively good hands to, to leave them in a scenario where they would have to fend for themselves, in a country that has a majority of dog haters? I would go insane. So I was happy to see that my neighbor – a refugee from the Ukraine – brought her little dog with her. I don’t know how she managed that (money was obviously not a problem) and I was impressed with that particular human being. First, she came with her partner and dog; later other members of the family joined them.

I thought of the other refugees; in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. Imagine having to leave everything behind and taking with them their old relatives and/or young children. Imagine leaving everything you know and have behind for the unknown. It’s impossible to fathom. And that’s why we have to feel compassion for the refugees. True, they seem to be mostly of a particular background and faith and they seem to end up in places that are predominantly of more liberal beliefs and practices. True, in present times, integration is an overwhelming challenge. I mean, in previous times, there were no terrorists of the present scale. So yes, these are different times and I understand both sides of the fence on this issue.

I am aware some people think it’s a good idea to fight evil with evil. If you are an inherently good person/soul, you will lose to the inherently evil people/souls if you try to play them at their game. You just won’t have the depth of evil in you to draw from to do better than others who are used by the evil forces and who have a bottomless well of evil to draw from. The good camp wouldn’t be able to match evil acts for evil acts and would be playing the game to the evil camp’s strength. Eventually, the good camp will be outplayed and consumed by the evil as well. If you are a good person/soul, your strength is in your goodness. You have to play to your own strengths. The evil person can’t be good and the evil person can’t do the good things that you can. You have to draw from the well of goodness which is not accessible to the evil camp. Goodness won’t feed the evil; goodness will starve the evil. You can’t fight darkness with more darkness. The whole planet will then be consumed by darkness. You can only fight darkness with light.

Regulars of this blog are aware I’m open to connecting with people “my kind of weird.” When I look at some if not all of the friends I have, they don’t measure up to my “kind of weird” either because while all my close friends are on the kind and compassionate side, they are lacking in the other qualities that qualify them as “my kind of weird.” Though they come closest hence they have been with me on my life path for decades.

The people I speak of acknowledge that while they are kind and compassionate, they seem to lack the qualities to become successful in education and personal finance; mainly because they did not prioritize education and personal finance. I was similar to them in this way as they were a great influence on me during my developing phase. I now find myself thinking perhaps we lacked the “intelligence” to appreciate the importance of education and finance in this three-dimensional world.

I have been with them for decades for a reason. We must be at a fundamental level, birds of the same feathers for us to have been close friends for so many decades. I like to say that I was so stupid for so long that I feel I have no more credit left for stupidity and have no choice but to be smart from here onward. :)
 I like to say to my friends: Yo, listen up. We have been so stupid for so long, we have exceeded our stupidity quota. No one has the right to be as stupid as we were and expect to survive in this dog eat dog world.

It’s as if when someone is being kind, the brain switches into “stupid” mode. And when someone applies intelligence to a situation, it’s as if the “kindness” mode has to be switched off. It’s almost as if the quality of kindness develops at the expense of intelligence and vice versa. In Chinese, there is a saying: “When we want to help, we talk heart (sentiment). When we don’t want to help, we talk head (reason).”

I’ve been told that in a particular developed country, it’s been said: “Kindness is the mark of a loser.” Yikes. Who wants to be a loser? Do we want to be kind? Sure. Compassionate? Why not? Kindness and compassion attract good karma and who doesn’t want good karma? Even if one doesn’t believe in the concept of karma, one should want to be good because virtue is its own reward. But do we want to be poor? I don’t know anyone who wants to be poor.

In the words of Garth Brooks: “You aren’t wealthy until you have something that money can’t buy.” So, kind people are kind of wealthy? Helping others is a kind of art form. One has to get the balance right or else become a charity case as well in no time at all. What is the point of doing so much charity that we become a charity case ourselves?

“Healthy boundaries aren't walls or barbed wire fences. They are gates, portals that we selectively open when it is healthy to do so. Sometimes we have to wall others off - to heal, to get a taste of what it feels like to be protected - but eventually we come into a sacred balance. Here, we make conscious decisions as to when to open, when to close. I think of it as the art of selective attachment. Rather than responding from a patterned place - too open or too closed - we look at each situation on its own merits. We keep the gate closed, when it is unsafe to open it. We unlatch the gate, if there is a healthy basis for connection. Healthy boundaries are situation specific, evolving and clarifying as we grow.”Jeff Brown, Author.

The situation is like this. When we die, we leave everything behind. We only get to take what we inherently are. Call it soul, spirit, energy, consciousness, whatever you want. Those of us who believe in many lifetimes, get that we have to prioritize the quality of our souls/consciousness since that is what we bring with us lifetime after lifetime after lifetime.

Those who believe in a ‘Heaven’ or a ‘Hell’ after they die have to chalk up enough ‘credit’ to get to heaven. I’m not comfortable with the belief system that it doesn’t matter whether a believer in a personified God is good or bad. The belief stipulates as long as you believe in your God that will get you to your Heaven even if you are a bad person and do bad things during your time on Earth.

Atheists are mostly scorned upon and feared because most people think that Atheists have no fear of “Judgment Day” so they have no incentive to be good and to do good deeds. Actually, there are Atheists who do good deeds simply because it’s the right thing for humans to help each other and to be kind to the animals. Kindness and compassion feel right to them and they appreciate that virtue is its own reward. They don’t do good things to get “blessings” or “good karma.” Not that there’s anything wrong with doing good things to get blessings and good karma. Whatever your beliefs, just be good and do good deeds. Someone said: Whenever in doubt as to what is the right thing to do, just do the kind thing. Then, you will always be doing the right thing for kindness is never the wrong thing.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

“My kind of weird” = “My people”

“My kind of weird” begins with the basic qualities of compassion and kindness. These two qualities cover thoughtfulness and consideration. Tick those boxes and we can play and see if the other qualities are compatible. If those boxes can’t be ticked, it doesn’t matter what other qualities a person has, he/she will not be “my people.” I find these basic qualities necessary as I work on the premise that we are all victims and come from a broken place. Compassion and kindness are preservation and survival tools.

After compassion and kindness, it’s important to have the quality of true intelligence. What is true intelligence?

In ‘Utopia,’ while commenting on the role of intellectuals in politics, Sir Thomas More concluded that at best, intellectuals could, by their counsel, prevent some evil from being done. Most then would agree that true intelligence would be the ability to solve the problems of our times. True intelligence is when you can be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

It is said the classics teach us to think and that there’s no better way of sharpening one’s intellect. If you agree with this line of reasoning then, being intellectual must mean that intellectuals are able to think for themselves; to question what they read and what’s been said to them. Short of quoting the Buddha when he said that no man should accept anything on faith. Every person should question what he hears even if it’s from the Buddha himself. And it’s important to read because reading hones the thinking process.

And what about the bit about: “Intelligence having to be developed together with the heart or else there will be an imbalance in the personality?” It is said that intelligence minus the heart can justify any evil.

To answer the questions: What’s “my kind of weird?" And, who are “my people?” The short answer is, “my people” are compassionate, kind and truly intelligent. “My people” are faithful, loyal and grateful (hence dogs are my people too). “My people” are self-empowered, insightful, dynamic problem solvers who are predominantly solution oriented. If you’re selling those qualities, I’m buying. Finally, “my people” either like or love me. They buy what I’m selling. Yes, they do.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Do what you think is right for you and you’ll be okay?

Some people like to say: Do what you think is right for you and you’ll be okay. The trouble with this piece of advice is not everyone knows what is right for them and if they do know what is right for them, they wouldn’t be asking for advice. Until they achieve mastery of themselves and their life paths, most people need to be told what they can or can’t do, should or shouldn’t do. They need to be told what would happen to them if they erred. Some have to be frightened into doing what’s good for themselves hence the Christian Ten Commandments for example. Some wise guy said: If people can be persuaded to do what’s good for them, the Ten Commandments would have been called the Ten Guidelines. :)

People say: Do not expect anything from others and we won’t be disappointed. I ask: How do we have (working) relationships then? “Working” is the operative word here. Aren’t relationships based on trust and expectations? We have to know what others expect of us and they have to know what we expect of them? Even my dogs have to trust me and know what to expect from me and vice versa. Every communication is based on trust. There can be no communication without honesty. Don't believe me? The next time you have conversations, do observe the quality of the conversations and be mindful of how much you trust the person you are having a chat with.

I, for one, do not test my relationships. They are put to the test by events. My relationships live and die according to the results of these tests. Life constructs these tests, not I. This works both ways. I am sometimes being tested for relationships and when I don’t pass the criteria set by others, they stop being in a relationship with me too.

We all know by now we shouldn’t depend on other people to make us happy and yet, when we do connect with folks our “kind of weird,” these relationships do contribute greatly to the quality of our lives. We know we should invest in ourselves – study, develop, improve, keep fit, stay sane, eat well, give ourselves a treat now and then, take time for rest and relaxation; do something each day to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. We know we should cut down on unnecessary stress, manage our time, manage ourselves and earn less if that’s the price we pay for good health. We know less can be more.

Here’s the latest update regarding

It costs about USD70.00 (RM300.00) a year to keep on the present server. At USD5.00 a book, I would have to sell 14 books a year to pay for the running costs. I’m told there are one billion people on Facebook alone. I’m told nearly every literate person in the world is on the Internet today, in one way or another. That's a huge market of potential readers that anyone, anywhere *can* reach; they are out there and reachable. Yet, it doesn’t look like I’m going to sell 14 books a year using my website model.

Someone in the publishing industry informed me that this industry has become a “zoo.” He said: “There are so many millions of books that no one can find anything these days, and people can't even give away their crap.” He said he used that word for a reason — much of what is out there on the market today is just that: “crap.” He described these books as: “Poorly conceived, poorly written, poorly edited, with nothing to say and no hope of ever selling.”

Well, I’ve made things even more difficult for myself due to my genre; which I can’t help because we are writing about stuff we know or think we know. I can’t find an editor who is metaphysically inclined. I may just publish what I have on Amazon anyway and let my books join the “obscure” club. It’s just as well I don’t depend on this income to eat or else I’ll be lining up at the Soup Kitchen real soon. :)

Monday, May 30, 2016


Please note the server that is hosting is undergoing “major data center migration and consolidation exercise from July 2016 till the end of October 2016.”

In view of this, I am not renewing my web package in mid-June and will only consider resuming once the host provider has sorted its “continuous commitment to provide better services and better hosting experience to (their) valued clients in October.”

This will give me time to rewrite the books in a new format and place on other platforms if that is the way to go for me in the future. Once the manuscripts are on free servers, they will be archived there for a long time for no charge. I am studying the POD (Print On Demand) option in the meantime.

When I first announced the impending launch of, there was an average of 600 monthly viewers. All they got to see was a temporary WIP (Work In Progress) page. As it got closer and closer to the October 2015 launch date, the number of viewers went up. After the launch, there was a steady stream of over 1K viewers a month. My webmaster was surprised that a new website could get so many viewers.

In any case, there were few conversions. Some of my friends told me they had difficulty paying with their smart phones. With others, it could be that there are trust issues with using cards on my website even though I’ve been reassuring the public that they’ll still be going through PayPal. Additionally, I am supposing that as a new author the public has credibility issues with me. So for me at least, it’s not a situation where I need more book promotions or advertisements. "You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make the horse drink." There are several reasons why books do not sell as well as they should. See this write up: So this server downtime will be utilized for a rethink, re-plan and redo. :)

When I first published, I had no idea what I was up against. Would I still have written my books had I known what I now know? The answer is YES. I wrote my books for therapy and they have served their purpose. Then again, if they are just for therapy, why bother with publishing? I published because I have a message to get out. I published because I wanted to test the market for my material. Since then, I have learnt a thing or two about the publishing industry and the market. It is clear now that I shall have to do something different regarding the business model (selling books is a business!) if I want to stay in the industry. So, those of you who are reading this and are interested to publish your own books will do well to read this first:

Fans, friends and supporters of Mena Koo will still be able to keep up with her activities on her social media pages. There aren’t many of you out there due to the metaphysical material in her books that friends have said are “hard to understand,” “abstract,” or even “blasphemous.” :) Hence, it's not that I don't want a professional editor, I just can't find the right one. One who is metaphysically inclined and one that I can afford. Once again, thank you all for being here and for your continued interest.



Monday, May 16, 2016

What is the universal language understood by all life forms?

Imagine life as a contest or a game. It is bound by rules and decided by skill, strength or luck. In a contest, not everyone can win. So in life, there will be winners and there will be losers. According to the rules of this game of life, one has not won until one dies spiritually strong and one has not lost until one stops evolving spiritually.

Is it not utterly preposterous that while not everyone can win in this game of life, everyone could lose by wars? If there is a global holocaust and the whole human species is wiped out at once, is that really so bad? In that scenario, every soul would be relating on a different level and there would be no need for food, water, clothes, houses, cars, etc. and no hassles to go with those needs. There would be no requirement for jobs, careers, ambitions, politics, sex, etc. There would be no disease, pain, suffering, etc. Is that so bad?

If life is a game or a contest and in this context there has to be winners and losers, then even after a holocaust there would be winner and loser souls. And they would inter-relate on a different stratum until they can find a way to manifest themselves in some form that would serve their purpose and start the game of life process as we know it all over. Except, maybe our forms may not be human (due to the lack of sustaining elements or whatever.)

What is the universal language understood by all life forms? We know energy is the common thread but what is the common language? Is it the innate knowledge that everything has its place in the whole scheme of the Universe? Can this knowing be the common language, a sort of understanding making it a sort of language? 

Why is it our natural instinct to want to live? Why does the human race strive for life? Beyond being afraid of the unknown, I think we cling on to life is because we innately know our souls need the human body, its form, to best inter-relate. Why do we need to inter-relate so badly? Because we know deep down that it’s only by inter-relating that we learn.

Values need the physical embodiment to be felt, touched, enjoyed and enhanced, improved upon or destroyed. We need our bodies to carry out our will. Ergo, souls are willful things. And it is this will that constantly binds us to our bodies. And it is this same will that leaves our bodies when we lose the will to live. The soul having no more will to live this existence because the body can no longer serve its purpose.

Despite the suffering that these needs in human form inevitably bring about, souls would still be better off with the physical embodiment with which to do and learn something as well or as bad. So it makes sense that the more lives a soul had to live and learn, the more evolved it is. And this evolved soul continues to will life again and again so that it can learn more and more from these life chances.

Of course, lessons in life are painful experiences. Not many of us would be excited to face lifetimes of suffering yet we inherently understand that in order to experience the gifts of life, we have to take the suffering with the joy. It’s what we dog lovers understand all too well. When we say yes to a joy, we say yes to the woes as well. The experiences we souls have on the Earth plane are either gifts or lessons. We do well to try to be the gifts we want.

We need to preserve our bodies so that we can live and learn as much as we can from our life chances. A lifetime is a life chance and is not to be wasted or frolicked away. This world of ours, contrary to popular thinking, was not designed as a permanent hedonistic paradise. Eternal life is a given as we are energy to begin with and I see eternal life as the chance to be born again and again if one desires to learn more and experience more. The possibilities are endless.