samoa writer

I am a Coconut.

So Amazon opened a Japanese division a while back, selling ebooks and stuff. I was looking through my (sad) sales reports and saw, “Hey! I sold a book in Japan!” Sooooo cool. Then I noticed they bought it for $339.00. Double-take. Say what? Do they love me that much in Japan? I get a little excited. Okay, a lot excited. Wow, maybe my book is super expensive there because it’s in such demand or something! I have wild visions of heated auctions for my book where crazed fans are battling for a copy of Telesa. It’s madness. It’s amazing. It’s so incredibly awesome.  I love you too Japan! Big hugs and kisses Japan! With chocolate chip cookies and donuts on top!

Then I connect the dots. That’s not 339 dollars. You idiot. It’s 339 Japanese yen. Which is about four dollars.

I am such a coconut.

Back to life, back to reality.

So yeah, I’m excited my book has attained this wonderful milestone. Thanks to Amazon, my little Samoan book written on a little island in the South Pacific and uploaded as an e-book, has been purchased by some very nice person alllllllll the way in Japan for the very first time. Yay for digital technology and yay for taking Samoan stories to the world!

But I’m still such a coconut.

 

 

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I Found Love Online!

We all know I’m a hermit with meagre social skills – which is why the internet is such a gift. I can be as isolated as I like, revel in all the unassigned air in my extended personal space AND still chat, laugh, commiserate, rant, rave and rejoice with people. But what happens when you meet these friends in person?  What if they turn out to be complete weirdos? Nutty nitwits? Worse yet, what if they meet YOU and figure out you’re not witty, engaging and insightful? That you’ve been misleading them all along? Aaaaaaargh!

These were the worries/questions/concerns that plagued me as I came to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.  What if the online awesomeness of my online friendships did not match with the reality?

Abbi Glines, hot NA author, was the first to arrive in  KC and right away, she ‘had me at hello’ with her Alabama accent. I could listen to Abbi talk all day, and not just because she’s hilarious. She’s hilarious in Alabama-speak as well. But it wasn’t until I heard her tell of the time some random woman made the mistake of sitting on her husband’s lap that I knew – blonde hair and blue eyes or not, this woman would fit right in with my feisty, fierce Samoan sisterhood! “This woman just sat down in his lap and said to me, ‘What’s the matter, aahm only playin.’ And ahh said, that’s not how we play in Alabama. Hell, no. We know better. Aint nobody better be dumb enough to sit in mah husband’s lap!’

Over the next few days, I met up with more of my online author friends. One of them zipped to RT on their own plane piloted by their super clever pilot husband. (so envious of Jamie McGuire because it took me over 24 hours of flying and waiting in airports to get to RT.  Some of them overcame drama to make it to RT… Steph Campbell was at an airport where a man with a gun took on police and ended up shooting himself. And there were prisoners being transported on her plane, shuffling by in the aisle with their cuffs. Elizabeth Reyes wasn’t supposed to come to RT but then her super husband encouraged her to go at the very last minute so she dashed through traffic, security and ticketing craziness. Erika (aka E. L James) initially checked in under a ‘different’ name and had to skulk through the crowds so she wouldn’t get mobbed. Angie Stanton and Tracey Garvis-Graves drove alllllll day to get to RT. So did Jillian Dodd. Then unexpected snow made some of them stay a bit longer than they’d planned to. Tammara Webber even came to RT and wrote through most of it because she had a publisher deadline to keep.

I spent five days going to workshops, writing classes, author panels and industry seminars. I also spent five days and nights laughing too much, Eating too much. Drinking too much Diet Coke. Talking way too much. – With women who all know the challenges associated with trying to balance writing, publishing, raising a family and negotiating a marriage/partnership. Elizabeth Hunter made sure I tried ‘biscuits’ gravy’ for breakfast. (I am now a convert and seeking recipes to make it myself.) Killian McRae was the nicest roommate a Samoan girl on her first trip to Missouri could ever have. Nicole Williams and her gorgeous little girl had me missing Bella heaps and wishing I could have afforded to drag my Fab5 halfway round the world with me. Tina Reber was the efficient organizer who ensured we all went to nice restaurants for dinner and they all had enough wine for the late night chat-fests.

It was a week of not much sleep where we hijacked Erika’s stunning and spacious suite  – and then made way too much noise so there were complaints made to hotel management. (Yeah, that’s right, I drank too much Diet Coke and partied too loud in E.L James hotel room so we all had to leave and skulk down to hang out in the lobby instead… how many girls from Lefaga can say that?…okay, it sounds waaay more badass then it was…we talked about children, spouses and stalkers. And we made a video for Colleen Hoover.  Then on the way downstairs at 11pm, we bumped into the CEO for Amazon Publishing, Larry Kirshbaum who wanted to talk to the superstar authors about very important stuff, so the rest of us couldn’t be loud and obnoxious anymore.)

Overall, I can confirm that yes, it is possible to fall in love online – and then meet them in person and still think they are cool, funny and fabulous. A lot of this author thing is sitting in a cave making stuff up. I like it that way. But once in awhile it is very cool to get out and about and connect with OTHER hermits who have ventured forth from their caves too. And anybody who ever thought all writers are very shy, reserved and/or boring people – really needs to go to a Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Some of those people are eyebrow-raisers.

And now, I have twelve months to save my pennies so I can go to next year’s RT Convention. OR maybe I can turn forty AGAIN and the Hot Man will give me another America trip for my birthday! (one can live in hope)

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Authors don’t sleep much, right Angie Stanton?

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Erika has this habit of cracking a joke RIGHT at photo-time.

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Confessions: I was worried about meeting Jamie McGuire cos she’s such a bada** online. And I was right. She is a bada** – a really funny, laid-back bada**.

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Our passport to RT adventure.

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I wasn’t impressed with the Los Angeles Airport. Or how long I had to sit around in it waiting for delayed flights.

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You get lots of free stuff at RT. I gave all mine away cos I couldn’t fly it all home.

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Missouri is famous for its BBQ. I can vouch for its deliciousness.

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You know you’re at a Romance Book Convention when THIS is your hotel room key

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A fiery little piece of Samoa displayed at the convention.

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My fangirl moment – meeting the husband n wife writing team, Ilona Andrews. Can I just fall down on the ground in awe! I went to their workshop on Writing Fight Scenes. They’re funny and you can totally ‘hear’ where Curran’s character comes from when you listen to them. Love their work.

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Many people attended the Convention in costume. Fun stuff. I totally need to take some Samoan taupou gear for the next one…

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I gave everyone lavalava’s as gifts from Samoa. Abbi Glines models her with style.

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With Steph Campbell and Elizabeth Reyes – How could such elegant women possibly be the ruckus-makers who hotel guests complain about an hour later?! …

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I was very impressed with the chocolate fountain for dipping bacon (huh?!), marshmallows, potato chips (say what?!) and fruit into. – but then we all know I am always easily impressed by food.

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I did mention the food, right? Seafood on Italian restaurant night.

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Yay, I finally get to meet Jillian Dodd in person! And the famous Fred from Bookaholics Anonymous and author Bonnie Burgess.

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With Elizabeth Hunter and Killian McRae, waitin for the BBQ.

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The Sheraton. Scene of the RT crime.

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I even got to visit with some of the Samoan community in Independence, Missouri – a pleasure to spend time with the Malaeulu family and friends. Thank you for all your book support.

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I went to the massive Book Expo and stalked my fave authors.

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I stood in line to meet one of Big Daughter’s favourite authors, Veronica Roth.

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And got books signed for Big Daughter.

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I appreciated the lovely weather in Kansas City when I arrived.

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But got super excited about the snow on day four. I mean, where else can you wear shorts one day and then make snowballs the next?

NZ Telesa Readers Only – Get in Quick

NZ readers can pre-order a limited number of SIGNED copies of Daniel’s Novella here. They will be available in New Zealand on January 30th and posted out to you. The novella is in paperback format and 146 pages. Please indicate on the order form what name you would like your book signed to.

Cost – $20.00 NZD  (This includes postage within New Zealand.)

A Week in Samoa

I’m in Samoa – staying with my parents but otherwise completely alone. No Hot Man. No Fabulous Five. I was invited to attend the 2012 SPACLAL Pacific Literature Conference held at the National University of Samoa and I had to give a presentation thingamajig about electronic books and self-publishing and social media etc. It was a great opportunity to meet some amazing Pacific writers…like the Tongan poet Konai Helu Thaman, Samoan poet Rev. Ruperake Petaia, Cook Island poet Audrey Brown Pereira, Fijian poet Darren Kamali and his partner in life and poetry – Grace Taylor. And to re-connect with others who have mentored and inspired me…poet and academic Selina Tusitala Marsh and writer Emma Kruse-Vaai. I just wanted to absorb their creative wonderfulness by being in the same Samoan fale/house with them…but I even got to chat with them…have dinner with them…talk writing with them…fan the same flies away from our lunch…

This was my second SPACLAL conference. Dr Sina Vaai invited me to be on a Writer’s Panel at the SPACLAL conference in 2004. I was terrified because I hadnt written any books then and the short stories I HAD written – I was submitting to journals everywhere using different made-up names so nobody would know I’d written such rubbbish. In 2004, I felt like a big fat liar sitting next to REAL writers who were brave enough to write their REAL names on their writing. Fast forward to now. I didnt feel like such a big fat liar. And I even had some books with my REAL name on them. But – it didnt really help. Because I was still terrified. And freaked out about presenting. It didnt help that I wore a stunning puletasi which was so stunning it was a heat trap. And I was sweating in a puddle of humidity. And when I stood up to present, I was soooooo hot that my glasses fogged up. And I couldnt see anybody. And so I had to take them off. And then I REALLY couldnt see anybody. (which was maybe a good thing.) But talking about electronic books and self-publishing was kinda like setting off a bomb in that gathering because lots of the writers present hadnt heard of such stuff and had never considered there might be another way to get their stories out to the world. I left the conference with lots of requests from people wanting to  learn more about this publishing avenue.

Some of the highlights of the week for me?

*Meeting Konai Helu Thaman who knocked down many walls for Pacific women writers. Listening to  her explain the background inspiration for her poem, ‘You the Choice of my Parents’ – which tore at my 14yr old heart and fervent imagination when we studied it in English class.

*Hanging out with Selina Tusitala Marsh, the rockstar NZ/Samoan poet who is the coolest, funnest woman in literature. EVER. ( I mean, heck, the woman does kickboxing. And runs half-marathons. And can apppreciate fun, fantasy ‘trash’ fiction. Can’t get much cooler than that!) We bonded over Nalini Singh novels at the last Writers Festival we went to and I had to laugh at her presentation on ‘Afakasi Women in Pacific Lit’…because while she included an analysis of my TELESA book, she also livened up everyone’s day with lots of cover-pics from Singh’s romance/erotica books. Woohoo! (and you thought my book had a hot cover.)

*Listening to Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao, (a silver-haired, very distinguished gentleman) talk poetry. And tell us about ‘that night…back in 1970’s…when we were having a few drinks together with Konai Helu Thaman…and she danced for us…and I couldnt sleep that night thinking about her beauty…so I wrote a poem about her body and its sensual swaying in the night…’  And then reading that poem for us and others. The discussion that followed was a welcome reminder for me that I shouldn’t be as freaked out as I have been, about writing about sensuality as a Pacific woman. All these other groundbreaking Pacific writers have been doing it for ages. I don’t know if the rules are different for Pacific WOMEN…but be prepared for a lot more ‘freedom of expression’ in my next books.

*Performing a reading of my blog at the Poetry Evening. I’m a rule breaker who doesnt write poetry so instead I go to a poetry recital and read blog extracts instead. And tell everyone about Skanky Ho’s in West Auckland and the sad fact that no, they are not serving Diet coke and Doritos at the gym. It was my first time to do a reading from my blog and it was a blast. I had so much fun with it and the audience seemed to enjoy it as well. Although Rev. Ruperake Petaia was on next after me and he had to say, “I feel like the severe grandfather figure who must tell you all to stop laughing and screaming hysterically and attempt to inject some sombreness and gravity to the occasion” Performing did give me an idea though – I’m going to video more of my blog pieces and get them up on YouTube. (that should really embarass the Fab5. Which of course is always my goal in life.)

*The food. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I’m superficial like that. But you know me well enough by now to know that everything is about food. The conference was catered by Taro King and they make the bestest refreshments. They even put lolisaiga powder on their fresh pineapple. (Which makes them worthy of celestial honors in my estimation.) My week in Samoa would not have been complete without oka and fried breadfruit from Paddles Restaurant. Sashimi and pok’e from Amanaki Restaurant. Octopus in coconut cream (faiai fe’e) from Netties MiniMart. Cream puffs from PlantationHouse High Tea. Lychee, mangoes and papaya from the trees outside. Bananas in coconut cream (fa’alifu fa’i) from Siaosi’s shop. Hunks of hot bread and slabs of melting butter. And keke pua’a. And pineapple pie.  Everything tastes better in Samoa. I’m not sure why…

*The creative battery recharge. I savored sunsets on the Apia Harbor seawall. Delighted in sand and sun and the lilting sounds of the ocean. Mused on all the colors of a tropical garden – fiery fuschia, pert pinks, raging reds, solemn greens, velvet purples… Chickens nestled in a cozy cluster on the doorstep. Even the busy heat, dust and dirt of a crowded day in Apia. All of it refreshed and rejuvenated my writing fire. I’m so ready to write write write now…

The Bone Bearer: A Piece.

A piece of the third book in the Telesa Trilogy: The Bone Bearer.  Coming in 2013.

When I turned twelve years old, my mother took me to the edge of the ocean cliffs and told me the story of the shark and the turtle. How long ago, a woman and her child were driven from their village and threw themselves into the sea, to what they thought would be their deaths. Instead, they were turned into a shark and a turtle and found refuge among the creatures of the deep. I remember it was a brilliant blue and gold day, with the salt wind leaving its trace on my skin. It was high tide and the white surf on the distant reef looked like the lace on her Sunday hat. I listened to her tell me the story but I was impatient for her to be done so we could get on with the business of birthdays. I was hoping for a netball. And a proper hoop. So I could stop practicing with a curve of steel wire coiled around the tree outside our house and that dried up coconut for a ball.  So I could take a step closer to my dream of becoming a famous international netball player, relentless and fearless both on the court and off. Yes, I was hoping for good things on this most important of birthdays…
Instead, my mother told me the story of the shark and the turtle. Then she knelt in the dirt on the edge of the windy cliffside and held my face in her hands.
“You are like them. You are a shark. A turtle. An eel. A stingray. You are one of the ancient ones. I have seen it.” She kissed me. Smiled with sad eyes. “You are twelve years old. It is time for a girl to start the journey to being a woman. It is time for you to embrace your true nature.”
And then my mother threw me off the cliff into the dark water below.
The third book in the series continues Leila and Daniel’s story to its epic conclusion. But it also introduces one or two new characters, explores the world and gifts of the Telesa in more depth, and takes us on a journey to several other Pacific places and cultures. I’m having a blast writing this one!

Why Writers Need a Cave

Where books are getting written & too many Doritos are getting consumed.
The other day a massive truck delivered a (rather hideous) orange and green box to my yard. My very own, brand new, writing office. A portable rental unit. “Surprise!” said the Hot Man. I can neither confirm nor deny whether I jumped up and down, screamed, did a celebratory dance of excitement on the front lawn with lots of uncool, unrehearsed moves. But the day got even better. We then went to Warehouse, made the most of their office equipment sale and returned with my very own, brand new desk, shelving, filing cabinets and other assorted super-cool writer gear. I then spent the next few hours setting up my office with the enthusiastic assistance of the Fab5.  Bella kept bringing me stuff she thought would add to the writing ambience…a broken necklace to hang on my shelf, her teddy bear, a Dora coloring book ‘for when you get bored’, a bag of half-eaten chips ‘for when you get hungry’… She also kept making emphatic suggestions, “Dada, you need to get a fountain that sticks in the wall and Mama can turn it on and Diet Coke comes out!” ( This child knows me well.) And, “Dada, where is the toilet? Make Mama a toilet so she dont have to walk up the stairs inside the house to go pee. Cos the toilet is so far away she might have a accident.” (Umm, thank you for that helpful thought…I’m sure I can make it to the bathroom just fine…) Indeed the child’s helpfulness was generally driving me nuts and I was just begging for her to please GO AWAY and leave me in my nice new office by MYSELF!
 
This new (ugly orange box) cave marks a very significant milestone in my writing journey. I am now a bona fide, full-time, professional writer. Writing is not a hobby. Or a guilty pleasure. It is a real job that helps earn money to support my family. I am no longer stealing minutes and hours here and there from housework, childcare and scoping out random pics of SBW. I am not sleepless, writing words in a sleeping house on the quiet side of midnight because now – I go inside my office at 9am and finish work at 5pm. And then I shut the office door and leave my writing behind. The evenings and the weekends now belong with the Fab5 and the Hot Man.
In the past twelve months, I have published three books, gone to book launches in three different countries, signed hundreds of books for awesome readers at fabulous book signing events, been a guest speaker at conferences, workshops, schools and libraries all over the place, stumbled through lots of media interviews, and generally felt like a madwoman trying not to fall off a treadmill that’s going at Usain Bolt speed. It’s been a breathless, frantic twelve months with many highs – most of them because of YOU the fabulous readers and enthusiastic supporters.
 
But it has also been a breathless, frantic twelve months with many lows. Because my marriage and my children have borne the brunt of most of the crazy schedule that I keep. And they have paid the price for most of the exhausting days and sleepless nights. The Hot Man and I came very, very close to calling it quits on this wild ride called marriage. Some things had to change. My writing cave is more than just a box with beautiful office furniture. It represents a move in my life towards better balance, organization and structure. It makes a clear separation between work and family. It was the bestest surprise present the Hot Man could have given me because, as he asked for more time and attention to be given to family – he at the same time – said, Your writing, your work is important to me, to us. I believe in your dreams and I support them. 
 
I love my work. Writing is my passion. And I have so many stories waiting to be written, so many characters that are waiting to find their place in a book. And now, I can live in my writing world for eight hours, five days a week. Write the next book in the Telesa Trilogy. And know that my family are okay with it.
 
Now, if I could just get one of those automatic Child-Freeze ray zap guns so Bella would stop knocking on the door every five minutes….
 
 

How Much Attention Should Writers pay to Bad Reviews?

“Do me a favor and don’t waste your time reading this book…the story line is awful.”
 “I wish someone else had written this book because I think it could have been great if written by a better storyteller.”
“The writing and dialogue were VERY bad.”
“The main character completely ruined the book for me. She’s bipolar, jumping from one emotion to the next like its nobody’s business. If I had been the male lead I would have punched her in the face and never talked to her again.”  (A selection of less than stellar reviews for Telesa.)

Book reviews. Bad book reviews. They’re inevitable for an author. Especially in this electronic day and age when anyone can read a book and then tell the world what they think about it. Right away. All over the internet. The first rule of wanting to be an author is – make sure you are tough enough to handle it when people hate your writing. Remember that, If there aren’t any peope that hate your work – then you arent reaching enough people. Embrace the haters. The second rule is – make sure you are strong enough NOT to respond/react publicly to a bad review. Don’t rant, rave, scream or hunt down that reviewer and kill them. (Can you tell these are Lani Young’s rules and very unlikely to be found in any writing manual?) The third rule is – make sure you are objective and discerning and grateful enough to look at each bad review and find the constructive bits in it. Ask, how can that crappy review be helpful?

I am a new author. I have four published books in the universe and lots of short stories in the universe. But I am still very new and have lots to learn. About writing. Publishing. Distributing and promoting my books. I am new enough that every review of my writing – gets read. Every review – either makes me happy. Or sad. (Especially reviews that say I don’t know how to speak or write English properly. Ouch.) I have read a couple of hundred reviews of my books thus far. Every time someone takes the time to write their feedback, I am grateful. EVEN IF THE FEEDBACK SUCKS. Because I am now experienced enough to realize that there can be value even in the haters.  Particularly when you take the time to be constructive / specific in your feedback about WHY you enjoyed the book. Or WHY you hated it.

There are over 100 reviews on Amazon for the first book in the series, Telesa:The Covenant Keeper. 129 of them are 4-5 star. 3 of them are 2-star. I found the reviews to be extremely useful while writing the second book. Many people also write to me with suggestions and helpful hints about typos, characters, plot and more. Your reviews and feedback help me write. Some examples:
* Simone. I never expected there to be so much overwhelming response to this character. A common thread in book feedback was how much you all loved Simone and wanted to see more of him in the next books. Another reviewer contacted me with suggestions about Simone using fa’afafine specific language terms to help make him a more realistic character. You spoke and I listened. The reason why Simone has a bigger part to play in When Water Burns  is because you wanted him to.
*Leila. You found her to be a frustrating character at times as she struggled with issues of identity and trust. Some of you were understanding and said that “she’s a typical teenager and has been through a lot so I could understand why she behaved the way she did” while others just wanted to beat her up, eliminate her from the scene and then step in to “comfort Daniel.” I hope readers will find that in book two, Leila shows more maturity and development as a character. (and no, sorry Daniel doesnt need any comforting from any helpful volunteers…lol)
*Pace of action/plot/storyline. While some luxuriated in the detailed build-up to the Covenant Sisterhood powers and plot, others felt that the book was “slow” Particularly  in the beginning. I did lots of writing research on how to make books flow faster. Make the action more gripping and intense. I wanted book two to be a book that you could NOT put down. Big Daughter warned me somewhat apprehansively, “you better be careful Mum, theres so much explosive stuff happening in every chapter that readers are going to complain the book is too fast…”

I dont know about other authors, but I’m very glad that readers can instantly put up book feedback online. Your reviews, emails, FB and twitter messages help me in this writing journey. I hope you will enjoy the second book (and the third…) And please, keep those reviews coming. Even if they suck.

Virtual Online Love

My mother is a powerhouse of creativity and I owe much of who I am – to her. It’s no accident that my Telesa series centers around beautiful, strong, vibrant and powerful women because that’s the kind of mother I’ve been blessed with. Both my parents are incredibly supportive of my writing efforts… in their own ways. My Dad tells me everything I do and everything I write – is wonderful. My Mum tells me what’s wrong with everything I do and everything I write and then works hard out to help me “fix” things. (I’m always glad when she tries to ‘fix’ me because that usually involves her giving me something stunning to wear so I won’t look so bedraggled.)

So yes, in their own unique ways, my parents are a great support for my writing. Even if the technological mysteries of the electronic book world make no sense to them. My mum only recently discovered how to use Facebook and I still get trans-Pacific-Ocean phonecalls from her, asking me how to upload a photo to her Facebook page…E-books are an enigma to my mother. “They are not ‘really real’ books, are they?” Case in point:

When I launched my first book, “Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi”, my mum gave me a stunning set of silver jewelery that she had designed herself for her Pacific design store, Plantation House.

See here, the bracelet and ring? at the Auckland launch hosted by Auck University. (and ohmigosh, check out the perfectly manicured fingernails – that is a cataclysmic, universe-imploding thing. Rare…so rare.)

And the necklace! (and my beautiful cousin Sina Wendt Moore, President of Auckland PACIFICA.)
 I love my  silver accessories and wear them to death everywhere. Which is really saying a lot because I hate wearing jewelry of any kind. They are a sparkly reminder of my parent’s encouragement and support.

When I launched my second book “Telesa: The Covenant Keeper”, my mum gave me a pearl shell neckpiece.  Also from Plantation House.

You can kinda see it here with some lovely Telesa readers, at the Wellington launch hosted by the Pacific Studies Dept at Victoria Univ.

I released my third book last week as an electronic book on Amazon: ‘Afakasi Woman’, a collection of 24 short stories. I don’t think my mother was counting on books getting released so quickly. She would probably prefer the more traditional approach where writing a book takes seven years and getting it published takes another seven…That would certainly save money where gifts of expensive Pacific jewelry are concerned.

My mum’s response to my book launch news?””Well I’m not giving you any new jewelry for this one because it’s not a REAL book, is it?”
Me – “Yes it is. It’s got 120 pages and a cover and everything. I’ll send you a link and a picture of it.”

Her response, “Fine. And then I’ll send you an e-picture of a new necklace from Plantation House.”

Or maybe an electronic picture of some new rings and bangles. Like this. 

E-pictures of “virtual jewelry gifts.” My mum may be new to the world of internet technology – but she’s catching on pretty fast.

Sleepless in Samoa hit a record 30,000 visits this month. Thanks for keeping me company! If you’re looking for a Fantasy Romance read about strong, fierce and proud Pacific women – check out the free sample of TELESA:The Covenant Keeper available on Amazon.

A piano fell on my head today.

I was sitting in church looking around ( from the depths of the back rows where I always creep in and hide) when suddenly it hit me.

I’ve been coming to this particular congregation for a year now. A whole year. And I don’t even know who half of these people are. In fact, I dont even know who a QUARTER of these people are. There’s that nice elderly gentleman who always smiles and shakes my hand. Don’t know his name. There’s that cheery, beautiful young woman who never ever forgets to say hello to me and all my assorted rabble. Don’t know her name either. There’s that very kind lady who teaches my very naughty child and still hasn’t tried to run me over in the parking lot as punishment for raising aforementioned naughty child. Don’t know her name. There’s the Youth Leader who organizes super fun activities for my teenagers every week and ensures they get a ride home. Couldnt tell ya a single personal thing about her. Everywhere I turn there are people who have gone out of their way to be nice to me and my (far from) fabulous children – and yet, I have no clue what their names are. I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a police lineup. Or nominate them as “people I would most like to survive the zombie apocalypse with”. Or ask for their help if I was locked out of heaven in the last days. Because I know zippity-doo zilch about them.

It was like a piano had fallen on my head. This is just not good enough.  I know I’m a hermit. I know I’m rather anti-social. I know that I have loser interpersonal skills. But after 52 weeks worth of Sundays with very welcoming, friendly, supportive and fun people – I should be better at this. But I’m not. Because I keep thinking that “I’m going home soon. I’m not going to be here for very long. This is not my REAL church/neighborhood/community. I don’t REALLY belong here. My REAL church/neighborhood/community is at home in Samoa.” So therefore I don’t REALLY need to make an effort. Because why bother?

I realize that I have to accept the facts. Right here, right now, I live in Auckland, NZ. And even though Im constantly plotting and conniving for ways to move home to Samoa next week, I have to deal with the reality of my NOW.  I need to stop moping and using homesickness as an excuse for (rude) hermit-ness.

You watch me. Next Sunday, I’m going to be a changed woman. The sign I usually wear that says, “GET AWAY FROM ME” will be left at home. I’m going to radiate cheerful friendliness, hug everyone and give them air-kisses. I shall smile more than a toothpaste ad. Engrave people’s names and faces in stone. Or at least write names down unobtrusively in the back of my scriptures. I will invite strangers to my house for dinner so that we can make friends. And have my new life’s mantra tattooed on my forehead – “Hi, I’m Lani and I know how to be nice. I promise.”

When I started writing this blog post about the New and Improved Me, I was feeling very enthusiastic. But now that I’ve reached the end of it, I just feel tired. The very thought of being cheerfully friendly is exhausting.

People like me should never move countries. Neighborhoods. Or church congregations. We should just stay in our caves, write books and invent people to be friends with.

Sleepless in Samoa hit a record 30,000 visits this month. Thanks for keeping me company! If you’re looking for a Fantasy Romance read about strong, fierce and proud Pacific women – check out the free sample of TELESA:The Covenant Keeper available on Amazon.

Dark and Dreadful Secrets AND When Water Burns – pg 77

I’m being forced to reveal some dark and dreadful secrets….they start with a piece of my next book ‘When Water Burns’ because I’ve been tagged for the Lucky 7 MEME by Lan at ‘The Write Obsession’
The rules are:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines ( sentences or paragraphs) and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 writers and let them know.
Thanks Lan! ( I think.) 
So here’s a piece from page 77 of ‘When Water Burns’.

One of the most disconcerting things about being the ungifted daughter of a telesa, is having your mother grow old – and remain ageless. While an increasingly worn face and grey hair greets you in the mirror. As a taulasea, natural healer, Salamasina well knew all of the concoctions which the telesa drank to help retain their youthful looks and yes, there were years long ago when she too had brewed them for herself. For vanity’s sake. But there is an ingredient for true telesa youth which could not be replicated. Power. Fanua ola. The life force of our mother earth. Every time a telesa called on her mother earth to unleash her gifts, that same power coursed through her veins with a rejuvenating effect. Renewing tired cells. The more a telesa used her gifts, the stronger she became. The older a telesa, the more potent her gifts. And the more hauntingly youthful was her beauty.

Which is why, when Salamasina answered the sharp knock on her door that morning, and saw the woman who stood there, it was like seeing a ghost from her past. A face unmarked by time. 

The face of her mother. 

Seven MEME Questions have to be Answered as well…
1. What is your dream vacation? An air conditioned 5 star hotel with superb room service that’s right next to a gigantic shopping mall and my Kindle loaded with all the latest books from my favorite authors. And not a single child anywhere. ( Sorry Fabulous 5. For some strange reason, you are never included in my perfect vacation dreams…I wonder why?)

2. Are you spontaneous? Or do you like to plan? I do like to write a lot of lists. They make me feel organized. But truthfully, I get all my bestest ideas for projects/events etc the night before. Or that day. Then I run around like a headless chicken on crack to make it all happen.

3. One thing you want to do, but don’t dare do? Get a tattoo. Like a malu. And maybe something on the back of my neck. And on the inside of my forearm. Behind my left ear. On my lower back. I can dream, right?

4. What’s your biggest phobia? Snakes. And attack dogs that bite unfit  fat chicks who don’t run fast enough to escape them.

5. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you want with you? (not incl yr laptop or family.) My Kindle, Diet Coke and Hermione’s magic bag of camping survival tricks. 

6. Name three blessings in your life. My family. The sacred opportunity to be a mother. (Nothing tests me or teaches me more.) And my skinny legs. (they are great diversionary tools)

7. What was your nickname in high school? Mata lulu. Translation – Owl Eyes. (And trust me, there was nothing kindly, endearing, or cute about it…)

8. If you could meet the President of the US what would you say to him? You’re amazing but I would really love to meet your wife. Is Mrs Obama around?

9.If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be? Lady Macbeth. Just because she connects with my inner psycho fierce bad-a** self. 

10. A favorite quote?  “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.”  
                                           Alice Walker.
Thank you Lan and Gossip Girl for the fun MEME. And now the funnest bit…tagging some more writers! If you dont have 77 pages yet then pick page 7…or 17…or 27…
*TL Jeffcoat
*Paige Kellerman
*Sophia the Writer
*Seti Matua at LeFolauga ( Come on Seti…I dare you! Just a few lines from pg 77…you can do it!)
*Maryanne Pale ( I know you’re not writing a book but would LOVE to have you share some of your poetry for this MEME feature…seven lines even?!)
*Alica McKenna Johnson
*Julianne Dodd (Hopefully the fun hot bits are on pg 77…) 
Have fun people!