There are two groups of people—those who have a story to tell but do not have the skills to tell it, and those who have storytelling skills but no story. I am in the latter category. So, it makes sense that I should seek out people who have a story, and tell it for them! That’s what happened with Sherena Loh, a wheelchair-bound woman who is the Executive Director of Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore (MDAS). What a story she had! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! Unfortunately, my HDB rooftop is out of bounds, so I did the next best thing, I wrote this book with her: (more…)
Posts tagged ‘Where did that book go?’
I decided to move into book writing in 2007. However, I was one of those people who did not have a burning story to tell. So, the next best thing was to find somebody who did, and tell it for them. I found Francis and Dorothy Chong. And what a story they had to share!
They were a married couple recovering from multiple adultery. Against all odds, the marriage survived. You have to read the book to understand. They wanted to tell their story as part of their healing process and also to provide encouragement and help to other hurting couples.
I remember one interview when Dorothy was digging deep into her memories. I couldn’t type on because tears were obscuring my sight – so unprofessional! She calmly handed me a tissue and we continued. The result was No More Tears – Reconciliation after Adultery.
Let’s hear from Dorothy about where that book went.
Dorothy, I heard that No More Tears has seen quite a bit of the world? Francis told me it had been distributed in Nagaland. I had to look that one up on the Internet.
D: Francis travels frequently for mission trips. We also have friends who travel for work. They usually bring copies of the book with them. So far, more than 100 copies of the book have been distributed in Nagaland – a state in the north eastern part of India. It gave Francis and me, together with other couples, the opportunity to conduct a Marriage Course in Nagaland last year for 50 couples.
No More Tears has also gone to Malaysia, Thailand, China, Mongolia and Russia. It has been translated into Mongolian and Chinese. There is talk of translating it into Russian and Thai.
Wow, it has been translated into two languages already. How did that happen?
D: A Mongolian lady read it and volunteered to translate it into her language. She felt that there were couples in Mongolia who would benefit from reading it.
Many readers tell us that it is rare to find a book about adultery in the Asian context. Mostly, only Caucasians are brave enough to “tell all”. So our book is quite unique. That’s why the book was translated into other Asian languages – people felt they could relate to the story.
Actually, many marriages are plagued by adultery. We don’t know the real figures because adultery is usually shrouded in secrecy and even the spouses may not be aware for years and years. And when they find out, they may not talk about it or seek help because they feel ashamed about the breakdown of their marriage.
This leads us to talk about your ministry. You embarked on the writing of the book because it is an extension of your marriage ministry?
D: Yes. Up till last year, Francis and I facilitated a 10-week Marriage Course. I, together with a few women, conduct a support group for women who are hurting from adulterous marriages and Francis counsels married men who are willing to open up.
We also speak at conferences, both locally and in other countries. Naturally, we can’t tell our life story when we are on stage, it’ll take too much time. That’s where No More Tears comes in. People read about our ugly past in the book. Then, they see Francis and me on stage, reconciled and happy. The difference is powerful. It gives them hope for their marriages and strength to carry on with their lives. I’ve lost count of the number of people who approached us after they had read the book. I don’t know how many copies of No More Tears have been sold, but I always hear about the book being passed around! (laughs)
I need to add a cautionary note here. Seeking counsel does not mean the marriage will be saved. The reality is that some adulterous spouses do not wish to mend the marriage. In my support group, I don’t go into methods to ‘get the husbands back’. Instead, we point the women to God, help them find security in Him and nurture their inner strength to continue with their lives, with or without their husbands.
Did the writing of your book (back in 2008!) contribute in any way to the healing process for you and Francis?
D: Yes, it did! Recalling our story brought back a lot of pain. Nobody wants to wash their dirty linen in public, and moreover, I am a naturally reserved person, so it was very uncomfortable. There were many times when I wanted to stop. But when I saw how sincere, repentant and willing my husband was to tell his story, it gave me new confidence in our marriage.
I am glad we finished the book and published it, because it testifies of how God transformed our broken marriage and it has brought hope and help to many people.
Thank you, Dorothy, for helping me to catch up with where the book No More Tears has gone. I will probably never visit Nagaland in my lifetime, so it is awesome to learn that a book I had written had already gone there. That’s the thing about books:
“When a book is published, it goes on to lead its own life, walk its own path, travel to places, meet people, make friends, change some.” (Pauline Loh)
No More Tears – Reconciliation after Adultery is published by Armour Publishing and available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/No-More-Tears-Reconciliation-Adultery/dp/9814222860
For the Chinese and Mongolian versions, please email Dorothy at email@example.com
I always rush from project to project. But I was convicted of the need to pause, look back and appreciate the books I had worked on before. The results are amazing. I am so grateful that these books go on to places I can never reach and touch people whom I would otherwise not meet.
Last month, I caught up with Jiamin Choo, the author of Out of the Harbour and my friend. Back in 2010, we met together as a writer’s group, and later, she invited me to edit her book. Since then, the book has gone into its third print! Out of the Harbour is an intense account gleaned from her 25 journals penned over six years. At the beginning, Jiamin was just a young girl, fresh out of university. Faced with promising career prospects, she made an unprecedented decision – she volunteered full-time onboard the mission ship Doulos. Jiamin sailed to over 30 countries and learned to “love the world, one port at a time”.
She is back in Singapore and shares with us what life is like as a published author.
PL: Where is your book sold?
JC: Out of the Harbour is in its third print. It is sold locally as well as overseas. I would bring along copies of the book during my speaking engagements at churches or at youth meetings. It gives me an opportunity to interact with the audience after my talk.
PL: I heard that Out of the Harbour has been a strong encouragement to some readers. Please share with us some of these experiences.
JC: My youngest reader is an 11-year-old boy called Cyrill who hails from Switzerland. He finished reading the book in five days and said that he dreams of becoming a Captain on board an Operation Mobilisation (OM) ship one day. OM is an interdenominational missions organisation dedicated to transforming lives and communities.
My oldest reader is 76-year-old Uncle Lew of Singapore. After reading the book, he signed up for a mission trip. He is living proof that one is never too old to go on an adventure!
One middle-aged professional who was facing life’s crossroads found comfort and courage through reading Out of the Harbour. He was moved to join the OM Ship’s short-term programme to do something new and serve the community. I believe it was a breath of fresh air for him and it allowed him room to think through his life goals.
These are just some of the feedback I received. It is comforting to know that Out of the Harbour is inspiring people to be brave to step out of their comfort zone and to pursue their calling in life.
PL: How about you? Have you been blessed by one of your readers?
JC: I’ve been blessed by a reader whom I did not even get to meet, and will no longer have the chance to. This young girl read Out of the Harbour while she was fighting cancer. She found comfort and strength through the book which reminded her that she was not alone in hardship and suffering. The message she came away with was that there were many others around the world who face struggles and choose to press on.
When this story reached me, the girl had just passed away. I broke down and wept. I did not know that the book could touch someone this way. I was grateful that the pages of Out of the Harbour could accompany someone who was finishing life’s race. This young girl’s story will always remind me not to give up in hardship, but to press on in life.
PL: Why did you write this book in the first place?
JC: Having sailed around the world, visiting 31 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Pacific, I’ve met people from all walks of life and learnt much from my encounters with them. Also, living on board Doulos, the world’s oldest ocean-going ship built in 1914, was such an adventure. I experienced living in a tiny cabin, witnessed dolphins and whales splashing around in the open sea, and joined 350 international crewmembers in serving the local communities wherever we docked. As a fresh graduate, this journey was something I’d never dreamed of.
Since I had been blessed with the privilege to go to so many places as a young person, and having witnessed God’s work in people’s lives around the world, I wished to share these experiences with other young people as an encouragement. To young people I say ‘There is a world beyond our shore to discover.’
I also wanted to write the book as a testimony of God’s goodness, to remember the wonderful people and encounters He had brought along my path. I hope that Out of the Harbour will encourage readers to draw close to God and inspire them to live to the full with purpose and passion.
PL: How did you feel working with me as the editor of your book?
JC: I met Pauline at a Christian writers’ workshop organised by Armour Publishing in 2010. When she heard my plans to write a book about my journey on Doulos, she invited me to join a writer’s group. She said this would be a serious commitment, that she would help me with getting the book out, but I would need to work hard and persevere until the book is completed. I was so glad she knew what she was doing!
The writer’s group met every few weeks to exchange our sample chapters and give constructive feedback and critique. Pauline was a great encouragement in cheering us on to keep writing, especially in moments when we felt like giving up. She was also strict in making sure we did our work, and did not hold back from giving honest feedback about our writing.
Having Pauline as my editor was a blessing because she was professional in her work and I learnt much from her. Sometimes, we argued over which parts of the chapter to keep or cut out, other times we laughed about it. I appreciate the many days and nights we spent going through my thick manuscript over and over again, until it was finally ready to be published.
Getting a book published is only possible because of great team work. I have to thank my dear editor-friend Pauline for all that she has done to make Out of the Harbour a beautiful piece of work. I am also grateful to my designer Thomas, friends who gave feedback on my chapters, and others who encouraged me to press on in writing.
Out of the Harbour took two years to write and publish, but I’m so glad that it is now in the hands of readers around the world, and bringing them on a journey of faith.
Thank you, Jiamin! Your words motivate me to continue working with other authors so that their books may also go out into the world.
Out of the Harbour is sold at SKS Books Warehouse (http://www.sksbooks.com)
and on the book’s website (www.outoftheharbour.com).
You can contact Jiamin for book talks at firstname.lastname@example.org.