Tuesday, June 07, 2011


My publisher surprised me with an email mid-March: Footprints in the paddy fields has been nominated for the Popular Bookstores Readers’ Choice Awards 2011. 

 To be frank, I don’t know whether to give myself a hi-5 for writing a book worthy of mention or… have a pity-party. 

Huh? Well, I'm one of those obsessive people who analyze things and situations AND jump into conclusions. In this case, I was thinking: maybe the book isn’t selling well and this is one way to boost sales? I know-I know-I know, people have told me I shouldn’t be so negative, so pessimistic. Even my own sister said maybe I underestimate myself? 

But the opposite of that is to be presumptuous; to be over-bold and think you are good and worthy. And Lord, I’m not worthy.

Last night, after I’ve seen the Popular Bookstores Contest Form where readers must pick their top three favourite books from the ten nominated for the awards, I posted about Footprints (being nominated) on Facebook. I guess I just want some votes. Imagine what it would be like if the other nine books receive a hundred votes each and my book gets only five? 

The message I’d get is: You think you can write? Think again!

I wouldn’t know where to hide my face. In case you’re wondering, no, I won’t jump down from my… er Mr. Hubby’s… rooftop. But it’ll mean I’d have to unlearn everything I know about writing and start all over again at the very bottom rung. At my age? That’s a big joke!

Then there’s this thing about being Sabahan...

But, let’s move on…

With the book being nominated, I was required to send a photo of myself. Know this: there’re fewer things I dislike more than having my own picture taken. I love being behind the camera, though! Anyway, I was given a few days to email the pic. I vacillated between asking my son, Sonny, to take a digital photo of me and going to one of those fancy wedding studios where they plaster and smoothen a 5cm-layer of cement (according to Sonny) on your face to magic away all your blemishes so you could look less like a frog and more like a princess. 

I visited a few websites. I called the first one on my list. No one picked up the phone. Another studio opens only a few days in a week. I took that as a sign and coupled with the likelihood that I’d have to empty my bank account to pay for the service… I gave up.

Time was running out. Sonny was busy. I was so desperate I even considered taking self-portraits! In the end, accompanied by Meg for moral support, I walked up the dusty steps to an old photo studio in Donggongon. I showed the photographer some ‘nice’ portraits of me taken by a pro—after I was painted and blow-dried by his make-up guy.

I told the photographer my predicament... and that some readers don’t buy a writer’s book because she’s:  A) unattractive B) ugly C) not pretty D) all of the above. I asked him if he could make me look nice in the pictures. He noted my home-made-up face all sweaty after the long walk from the parking lot.  Bless him, he didn’t burst out laughing at my foolishness. In fact, he was very professional and patient and sympathetic. 

“I’ll make you look like a businesswoman,” he said as he clicked his DSLR for the umpteenth time.  

“Please make me look like a writer,” I begged.

I sent the publisher this photo:

Being nominated is a big deal and a great honour. (I share the same publisher with an astronaut. Our books came out around the same time but his hasn’t been nominated.) 

Hoping to win the award is like wishing for the moon. And that’s furthest from my mind. What I want are just a few votes—okay, several votes—above zero so I won’t feel like I’m letting Sabah down.

So if you’ve read the book and liked it, could you please vote for it? Bless your kind heart and thank you in advance!


  1. Next time u wish to have a portrait shot of you, let me know. I knew a lady photographer who more than willing to take photos and she's doing it freelance and for minimal fee. maybe around your garden or in your comfortable corner in the house, perhaps?

  2. Thanks, Angel! Will remember that.

  3. A big congratulation to you Tina for being nominated for the Popular Bookstores Readers’ Choice Awards 2011. Don’t be too early to despair as you might get les votes. That is all in your mind. It is still early so there are still many more days to let your friends who have read your book to let them know about the nomination. I will do my best to inform my friends and those whom I sold your book to them. Almost all of them after reading your book gave very interesting and encouraging comments as feedback to me! You can count on me.

  4. Hello Tina,
    First of all, a big congratulation for the nomination. I'm very happy for you. Second of all, nope, no pity party for you, there's no need for it. You're a real good writer, I have no wonder why you got nominated. I don't think this is a trick or something, your nomination is because you deserve it. And last of all (but not least), ya, I'll vote for you! You need to send me the link to vote online, tho.

    A big hug for you, Tina! I keep my fingers crossed for you.


  5. Hi Andrew and Gunaqz! Thank you for your kind words!

    Yay... no pity party. I was just a little surprised when I was told about the nomination. But I've seen the books on local bestseller list and I'd be insulting the other writers if I said the books are not laku!

    Gunaqz, click on the Popular Bookstores... in my post for the form. But it looks like you have to print the form and snail-mail it to Popular. Thanks for your support!

  6. Hi! i hope its not too late to congratulate you for winning the first runner up in the RCA '11.

    ive just read your book and im really honored that someone actually wrote the book of my root :). its quite sad that many of your photographs are gone now, i really wish i could see just once how the dusuns had lived in the old days!

  7. Hi ikebal! Thank you for visiting. Congratulations are (to me!) never late!! Thank you and I'm glad you found the book.
    Exciting things are happening here in KK among a group of Facebookers-- now almost 300 strong and from all over the world! We are encouraging everyone (Sabahans in particular) to learn about and to share knowledge on our history and heritage. If you've time, please visit our blog: nbhe.blogspot.com. I'm a sometime-writer there. :-)