Telesa book.

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.)


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.

Brown People Don’t Read. Much.

We interrupt this program to let you know that has jumped the gun and the second book in my Telesa Trilogy, ‘When Water Burns’ is now available in a print edition. Right this minute. For $14.65.
 ‘When Water Burns’ – the second book in the Telesa Trilogy.

It’s not easy for a book written by a Samoan author to find a global voice. Thank you to all those readers who took a chance on the first ‘Telesā’ book and then were generous enough to share it – review it, blog it, tweet it, Facebook it, email it, harass their family and friends to read it. The Telesā series has the bestest readers in the world. I am in awe of your passion, enthusiasm, and fiery creativity as you have embraced this Pacific story. It is always a joy to connect with you, whether in person or in the virtual world.
Many people have been asking me WHY did I put out the print book first? What’s the delay with the electronic book. Its a long story, but here it goes…

* The first Telesa book was released as an electronic book in Oct 2011 on both Amazon and Smashwords. I chose this option as it was the fastest way to get my book out to a global audience. Many, many people chose to buy one PDF or Word document copy of the book from Smashwords and then copy it and email it to all of their friends and family. Twitter and Facebook were filled with people talking about how they shared copies with “everyone at my church…everyone at work…all my cousins…” and more. Our Pacific Islander communities overseas have been superb supporters, talking up the Telesa book in our churches, schools, councils and social networks. As a very new author, I continue to be grateful for the generous support of all those who help to spread the news about my book.

*However, as a Samoan author trying to take a very Samoan/Pacific story to the world – the file sharing severely hampers Telesa’s standing on the Amazon bestseller ranking. Back when I was trying to find a publisher for my book, more than 30 different agents and publishers rejected ‘Telesa’ and a common reply given was, ‘There is no market for a Pacific/Samoan young adult book.’ And so I published it myself. Mindful that many readers in Samoa etc do not have access to e-books, we took out a mortgage on our house to pay for print copies. It has been a challenge to get the Telesa books into mainstream bookstores in NZ and Australia. I have huge appreciation for the 25+ stores in Samoa and American Samoa that stock Telesa. Huge appreciation for the online book distributors (like Wheelers, Academy Books etc),  University Bookshops, Paper Plus,and other Pacific stores in NZ that support my books by stocking them. (And no love for Whitcoulls that said no, no, no.) Huge appreciation for the libraries in NZ and Samoa that have been so willing to support my books. I am honored that institutions like Auckland University, the Univ of Guam and several high schools have made Telesa a required literary text of study.

* I understand that it is something of a risk for a store/distributor to take on my book. There are no other Pacific authors writing in the Young Adult genre.YET. So how are stores supposed to know if there is a market for such a book? Perhaps the traditional book industry believes that brown young adults don’t read much. As an ex-English teacher of Pacific youth, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to get our young people to read – and enjoy it. To some extent, the book industry perception may be right then. But maybe, we all would read more if there were more books available that we could connect with? And more ‘brown’ books we could actually access easily. I can’t even buy a novel by world-renowned Albert Wendt from Whitcoulls here in NZ and he’s the mostest famous-est Pacific author on the planet. I can’t get a Sia Figiel book from anywhere either. I don’t know about you, but I find that disgusting. When literary masterpieces of Pacific fiction can’t get on the mall bookshelf, what chance does an easy fantasy read of Pacific storytelling have?

The international response to the Telesa e-books has shown that yes, there is an audience who wants this kind of reading material. And no, it’s not just brown people reading it either.

* But publishers, distributors and stores are not going to know this unless they can see the numbers. The cold hard facts. The stats. They need to see Telesa and other books like it rank on the world bestseller lists. The Amazon listings. The New York Times listings. Only then will they be willing to publish more of our stories, distribute them, put them in libraries and schools worldwide and even make movies about them. This will not happen as long as we file-share and as long as we are content to keep quiet and not make our buying, reading voices heard.  I may be the first Pacific YA writer to publish electronically but I certainly do not wish to be the last. There are others writing great Pacific stories and poetry right now, powerful young writers like Seti Matua, Samantha Peckham-Togiatama, Maryanne Pale, Sita Leota, Nydia Aloaina, James Toma and many more. I look forward to the day when I can log on to Amazon searching for a good book to read and be able to choose from a myriad of Pacific authors writing captivating stories from all the different places and cultures that make up the vibrant fabric that is the Pacific. We all have a part to play in helping to make that happen. We need to support our Pacific storytellers so they will write more AND we need to  harass stores and distributors for ‘Young Adult books written about us, for us, and by us...’

*I was hesitant to release the electronic version of ‘When Water Burns’, wanting to first address this issue on my blog and so, I have released the print version on Amazon.This is not a financially wise choice for me. Amazon sells my print book for $14.65 USD. I get $2.30 of that. Compare this with the electronic version which will release for $7.99 USD, I get $5.59 of that. Do the Math. But then, this journey is not just about the money. Since Telesa’s release, I have held regular free download promotions and given away more than twenty thousand electronic copies. Everywhere I go, I donate print books to libraries and schools. The most rewarding part of this journey has been the feedback that says, ‘I hate reading, but I read your book in two days…I’ve never read a book before until I found Telesa…Your book has made me want to visit Samoa…This story makes me want to learn more about my heritage…’ Yes, I am a writer trying to earn a living with my writing, but I am also an educator who is passionate about nurturing a love for books, fueling creativity and igniting a fire for our culture, legends and ancestry.

 I believe that our Samoan and Pacific stories are powerful enough, good enough and unique enough for the world stage. I also believe that our stories can have a global market that goes beyond Samoans everywhere.People are calling ‘Telesa’ the “Pacific Twilight”. I bow to that as a huge compliment. But I also hold my head high and affirm that this is not some tawdry rip-off of a sparkly vampire series. It’s a unique something special all its own, –
supernatural elements grounded in Samoa of old

the reading and seeding of myths and legends and lores untold
genealogy and story strung in the integrity of line

Pacific epistemologies wrapped in passion sublime…
Its ancient mythology meets teenage biology…a kind of Sex in the city meets Hex in the Bush!’ 
(Prof Selina Tusitala Marsh)

In two weeks, the electronic version of ‘When Water Burns’ will release on Amazon. I am hoping for your continued support for the Telesa Trilogy books. Fa’amolemole, I am asking that you purchase your e-book from Amazon. I am asking that you refuse to file-share.

Fa’afetai tele lava.

Taking it All Off…

The thing about being a full-time writer and domestic slave to too many children, is that it means the only work clothes you own are sweats and pyjamas. Which can be a problem when you get invited to fly to another city to do a book thing at your old university. Somehow, I didn’t think that a 20yr old high school sweatshirt and the Hot Man’s very comfy trackpants were going to go down very well at Victoria University. So what’s a fashion clueless and kinda overly luscious fat woman to do?

Consult with the fashionista maestro for larger sized woman everywhere – Oprah.

According to the experts at the Oprah website, there are a few essentials when trying to look your bestest. The first is something like this.

 (Why is it that the women who model these things are always skinny already anyway?)
1. A “body shaper.” Otherwise known as a fat-squeezing, stomach-sucking, air-defying, pain-inducing, hallucination-causing instrument of torture. If the experts are to be  believed, then every skinny woman you’ve ever seen in Hollywood, is secretly wearing stuff like this underneath her skimpy, skin-revealing dress. (And all the loopy smiling and plastic waving they do must be caused by the shortage of blood flow to the brain.) Oh, and you must make sure that the body shaper helps your assets to defy gravity and raises them up to hi heaven. I quote from one pair of experts on YouTube, “It’s very important that a larger woman wear a well-fitted bra that really lifts ‘the girls’ up. The skinniest part of your body is directly underneath ‘the girls’ and so you need to accentuate it with a great boosty bra.” (My fashion research is teaching me new biological terminology. Who knew one’s assets were referred to in fashionable New York circles, as ‘the girls’? Not I.)

2. A very sleek black pencil skirt. Black of course. Because anyone with half a brain knows that black is a slimming colour. Indeed, for maximum slenderizing effect, one should wear all-black. Like Goths. Bats. And ravens. Vampires. (Real ones, not the sparkly variety.) And sky-scrapers.

3. High heels and sheer stockings. If you want to look sleeker and have a kind of vertical optical illusionary impact, then stunning heels are the way to go. You know, it makes people look up and down. As opposed to side ways…blobby blubbery tire sideways.

My exhaustive research dictated that I should combine all these things with a killer confident attitude and then I would be guaranteed to look NOTHING like myself at all. I would be transformed into this Goddess Author of Chic Elegance. And NOBODY would know that I was nervous. Freakin out. Or that I ate Doritos in between writing every paragraph of my book. And celebrated every new page with donuts.

So how did it go then? When I left my house that morning, I was stupidly convinced sure that I looked like “The Shizz.” I strode thru Auckland Airport slaying people left and right with my glamourous shizz-ness. Our departure gate was really really really far away. By the time I got to my seat on the plane, my new shoes were a little uncomfortable. Sitting scrunched on those silly airplane seats that only Barbie dolls could be comfortable in was making my body shaper a little bit uncomfortable too. But I was a Goddess Author of Chic Elegance so it didn’t matter.

My Dad had come all the way from Samoa to go with me. ( And to make sure that I didn’t embarass the family by crying, fainting, vomiting or getting mad at anyone who dared to say bad things about my book.) We flew to Wellington. We walked a really really long way outside the airport to the taxi stand. We got to Victoria Univ three hours before the book party was supposed to begin. I had to carry bags. And a box of books. We sat in a cafe to relax over hot chocolate for a while. Which is when I began to realize that “body shapers” and “relaxing” don’t go together. I couldn’t breathe properly. I couldnt sit properly. I couldnt even eat a muffin properly dammnit, because my salubrious stomach was so squished. I started to get very anxious. Not about my book speech. But about whether or not pieces of my innards were going to start seeping out my ears.

It was time to walk up the hill and up loads and loads and loads of stairs to the Univ library. I realized that buying a new pair of black high heeled ankle boots THE DAY BEFORE I had to wear them for seven hours straight – was a really dumb thing to do. Every step felt like I was shoving my feet into jagged rusty herring cans. And in spite of the rain and the fog and the Wellington wind, I was getting really sweaty. And out of breath. And I remembered why I was a skinny lissome thing when I was a student at Victoria Univ. Because of all those *@^#&$% hills and stairs everywhere. By the time we got the library, I was gasping for air. Which is very difficult to do when one is squeezed into a steamroller squish-shaper garment. There was imaginary blood seeping out of my stupid shoes.

Which is when I decided to accept the facts. I’m NOT a Goddess Author of Chic Elegance. I’m just me. The fat chick who wears sweats and pyjamas all day. So what did I do?

I went to the ladies’ room and stripped off the body shaper. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh. The sweet relief as air reacquainted itself with my lungs. As fat molecules dispersed and did a happy dance.

Back in the lobby, I took off the shoes. Aaaaaaaahhhhhh. Feet rejoiced. Crushed toes uncurled and realigned.

My Dad frowned. “I don’t think you should take your shoes off. Your mother wouldn’t like it.”

But I was beyond caring. Even the threat of my Vogue magazine mother’s disapproval did not faze me. By the time Telesa readers had arrived and the panel discussion had well and truly begun – I was barefoot, shapeless,  sloppity and slouchy.

And comfortable.

I had a blast. Even though I wasn’t a Goddess Author of Chic Elegance.The Telesa book panellists were witty, funny, incisive and insightful. The discussion and questions from the audience were interesting and enjoyable. Meeting with readers afterwards was the highlight. The Pacific Studies organizing team did an amazing job.  Thank you all so much!

My next book trip is to Brisbane at the end of April. There’s a very real possibility that I will wear sweats. Or pyjamas.

Strategical cropping of the photo so you can’t see the shoe-less evidence…

Tattoo Time: Brad Tavares

Back by overwhelming demand and fighting out of the CENSORSHIP corner…I’m happy to present Tattoo Time! Where we studiously examine the artistry and cultural significance of some Polynesian tattoos and (more specifically) the Polynesians who rock them. Today’s feature is Brad  Kaipo Tavares from Hawaii. Brad is an American professional mixed martial arts fighter who competes in the middleweight division.  If any of you watch UFC  then you would have caught his tattooed self in the 2010 season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’  (I cant say if he was any good on UFC because I never watch sports where grown men beat the stuffing out of each other. Unless its rugby. And somebody’s having a wardrobe malfunction.)

So how and why did Mr Tavares’ tattoos catch my attention? Some of you know that there’s a new character introduced in my second TELESA book. His name is Keahi. He’s from Hawaii and he has a teensie bit of an attitude problem. He’s also a student of ‘Lua’ which is the traditional Hawaiian martial art…so in the name of research, I turned to Google ( the fountain of all wisdom and knowledge) and Tavares’ tattoos were most intriguing. At first I thought Tavares might have some Samoan in him BUT we asked him on Twitter and he graciously replied, “No.” (It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you.) Brad was born in Kailua, Hawaii in 1987 and his fight specialties are muay thai and wrestling. He currently fights out of Las Vegas.
He has a half-sleeve and chest tattoo on his left arm. (You might see it better if he puts his arms up, like so…)

And here it is again, this time in action in the ring. 
And here it is with flames. Because everything is better with fire, right? 

And running down his right side is some more ink. This time its his name and it is a beautiful piece of tattoo artistry…

 Isn’t it so annoying how abs and definition can get in the way of appreciating the tattoo?! 
Tavares also has ink that runs the full length of his right leg which is a first for our Tattoo Time feature.

You can see more of Tavares’ tattoos on You Tube here: and
And one last time…those tattoos ( HELLO, QUIT LOOKING AT ANYTHING ELSE!)

So there you have it. Tattoo Time with Brad Tavares. Just sharing some of my hard work research efforts with you as I continue on my endless quest to ‘Find Keahi..

The Kiss. (Daniel Speaks)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a gift for TELESA readers – a piece that may (or may not be) Daniel’s thoughts on kissing. And that kiss. Hope you enjoy it!
Why is that guys are supposed to have kissed tons of girls – or else they’re designated “losers”? While girls are supposed to only have kissed one or two people at the very most – or else they’re designated “sluts”? That never made much sense to me at all. But then there’s a lot about kissing. And girls. That has always eluded me.

When guys get together they like to talk about girls. Which usually leads to talking about who they’ve been kissing lately. Or wanting to kiss lately. Me? I like to adopt a ‘man of mystery’ approach to the whole thing. I tell them that according to my Grandfather, ‘a gentleman never kisses and tells.’ Which of course makes it sound like I’m getting it on with loads of girls. Ha. When really? The truth? I’ve only ever kissed two girls. And I’m not sure forced mouth-mashing actually qualifies. Samantha Matu kissed me in Year 5 when the girls were playing ‘Chase the boys and Kiss Them.’ (Okay, so she was a faster runner than me, but damn, have you seen her? That girl was a giant compared to the rest of us and nobody could escape her. The kiss she plastered on my clamped shut lips was vicious.)  My second kiss wasn’t much better. In Year 8 a girl called Malia liked me. So her best friend told my best friend to tell me that I should  meet Malia at the back of the school hall. Well, I did and after standing there in total silence for ten minutes, we both had the same idea and kind of smushed our lips together for all of two seconds. Which left me wondering, ‘what the heck is the big deal with kissing anyway?!’

The day I kissed Leila gave me the answer to that question – and then some. We had gone running together at the SamCo field and she had basically killed me in the fitness and endurance department. (Shh, don’t tell Coach.) It was getting dark by the time we were done, so the field was empty. Just me and her with the stars coming out. I remember she was wearing blue running shorts and a white singlet with this black sports halter top kinda thing inside it. She was flushed, sweaty and laughing, really loving the fact that she had just kicked my ass on the track. She smiled up at me. That’s all it took and everything came to a crashing halt, like someone had taken me out with a killer tackle. No air. No sound. Nothing. Why had the world stopped? Why couldn’t I breathe or move or feel anything?

I looked at her. Really looked at her. 

I had seen Leila without a shirt before, so I knew that under the clothes she wore with awkward unease – there was a body that dipped and curved in all the right places. In unforgettable ways. (And believe me, ever since the night I had surprised her at the midnight pool, I had been trying not to remember it.) It was easier when she was in the orange and yellow school uniform everyday, but that night, her workout clothes clung to her with sweat in a way that I bet would have made her really mad if she had known. I tried to focus just on her eyes – but my memory was filling in all the tantalizing gaps. The long legs that went on forever. The slight slouch to her shoulders because she was always trying to hide the fact that she was taller than most everyone around her. Her hands that she would wave around all over the place when she was trying to get her point across. The thick rope of hair that I wished I could loosen from its braid, just so I could see if the sandy highlights would catch fire in the moonlight. Her black onyx eyes that could knife through a guy when he was dumb enough to debate with her. Or soften to a midnight ocean velvet when memories entangled her. Or glint with chipped diamonds of laughter when she was teasing me…Are you sure you’re man enough to risk losing a race to a girl? I think I saw you struggling to keep up there for a few laps!

I looked at Leila. And that’s when it hit me. Damn. She’s beautiful.’ 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I thought she was ugly before that. No, it’s just that up until that moment, I had been too busy trying to figure her out. Everything about Leila both intrigued  and infuriated me. From her anger to the sadness that she drowned in when she talked about her Dad to her ever-readiness to believe the worst of me. Any encounters with Leila inevitably had me feeling like I wanted to smash stuff. Or like I needed to go for a long, hard swim in a icy cold pool. Or both.

But that night, Leila wasn’t making me mad. Or confused. She was just smiling and laughing and talking. And being so damn beautiful that it hurt.  A lot. In my chest. My head. And everywhere else that a guy feels stuff.
We sat and talked but I couldn’t tell you what we talked about. I just hope that I made legible sense. I can tell you that she sat beside me on grass that was still warm from the fast fading day. We were barely close enough to touch but every breath I took tasted of her. Chocolate. The savor of roasted koko beans with lots of brown sugar. And hints of vanilla spiced with the burn of chilli. We talked but all I could think about was how beautiful she looked in the moonlight. And wonder… how angry would she be if I tried to kiss her?

And then she ran her fingers along my shoulder, tracing the patterns of the tattoo on my arm. Her touch burned. It was a struggle not to jump up and run a mile in the opposite direction. Because I wanted to touch her back. Hold her. Taste her mouth on mine. And I knew I couldn’t. Shouldn’t.  

For the barest of moments, I did try to halt the tidal wave of heat that was sweeping me towards her. I tried. And then I wasn’t trying anymore. Because then a thought, a longing had melded into a moment. I breathed a kiss on her cheek. Her skin was hot. Sweet. And then her lips were opening under mine and I wasn’t thinking anymore. Because I was sinking, melting, drowning in a pool of hot chocolate. Everything splintered into flashes. Swirling like in a kaleidoscope.

Hot. Mouth. Velvet sky. Stars gleaming. Tongue. Searching. Hands. Tugging my hair. Skin against skin. Hard. Sweat. Pulse. Hot. Electrical current wired from earth to heavens. Heart beat. Sweet. Hot. Fire. Raging. Kiss. Faraway ocean roars. Crash. Foam. Leila. Hot. Hot. Fire. Hot. 

Too hot. Shit! Ouch.

“Leila, what’s happening?”

She pushed me from her with a strength I didn’t know she had. “Daniel, get away from me!”

And then, the girl who had set me on fire with a kiss – exploded and burst into flames.

Daniel Speaks.

Somebody asked me the other day, ‘What was Daniel thinking when he first met Leila? Wouldn’t it be awesome to get his perspective on things?” I thought about it and yes, I agree – it would be kind of interesting…so I asked him. 

Daniel, what did you think of Leila when you first saw her? What did you notice about her?

And here’s what he had to say…
Did I think she was breathtakingly beautiful the first moment I laid eyes on her? No. Did I fall madly in love with her on that first day we met? No.

So what did I think then when I first saw Leila Folger? What made me notice her?  Her anger. She reeked of it. It came off her in waves. From the expression on her face – the thick dark eye brows, the furrowed brow, the determined set of her jaw – to her rigid posture and tightly clenched fists. The way she walked across the campus with her entire body tensed as if she expected someone or something to attack her at any moment and she was ready. Boy, was she ready. She was angry, ready to fight and she wanted everyone to know it. That’s what I first noticed about Leila. I saw her before she saw me you know. It’s true. It was on her very first day at SamCo. We were having rugby training on the center field before school started when Maleko nudged me.
“Hey, new girl.”
I looked. Heck, everybody looked. That’s how tight SamCo is. I mean there’s only 400 students in the school so anybody new doesn’t stay unknown for very long. So yeah, I looked over at this girl in the obviously new bright orange and yellow uniform, walking up the driveway with her schoolbag over one shoulder. She was scowling. That’s the only word I can think of to describe her face. Most new kids look a little wary, sometimes afraid, nervous. But Leila? No, she just looked angry. Angry to be here. Angry at everyone around her. She looked over to the rugby field in our direction and she even looked angry to see us!

Maleko whistled, “Sheesh, what’s her problem?”

I shrugged. Suggested, “I don’t know. Maybe she finds your naked chest offensive? I know I do.”

Maleko swung a casual left hook at me which I ducked easily. The others laughed and we all moved back to scrum formation. The angry new girl was forgotten.

Until the next day. When I walked into Ms Sivani’s English class and there she was. Sitting next to Simone. And staring. At me. This time, it was her eyes that caught me. Deep set, ember dark eyes that were scrutinizing me as if she wanted to burn holes in me with her laser beam vision or something. Great, the angry new girl wants to kill me. And we haven’t even met yet. For one crazy minute, out of nowhere, I had this crazy urge to poke my tongue out at her. To try and tease a smile out of her. I didn’t know why, but I wanted to make this girl laugh. Or at least  let go of some of that fury that she seemed to be struggling to hold in check. I wanted to make a face at her and coax an unwilling smile from her, just like how I always do with Mama, my grandmother. Instead, I smiled. Willing her, asking her with everything I had – to smile back.
It didn’t work. She just looked angrier. And looked away. Oh well. It was worth a try.

Ms Sivani was in fine form that day. She liked to challenge us, have us ‘push the envelope’, telling us that we were lazy, complacent students who needed to walk on the wild side of the intellectual stimulation wire. She put the debate topic up on the board and got us all started on a free-for all debate. One of her favorite activities. That’s when I first found out her name. 

That’s when ‘Angry New Girl’ became ‘Leila’. That’s when my life started to change. Irrevocably. 

Telesa Reader Photo Hall of Fame – Are you there?

Last day of 2011…and what a year! A huge thank you to all the family, friends, blog followers, tweeps, Facebook team and book readers who have enthusiastically supported my writing efforts this year and helped give my Telesa dreams wings to fly. Three months after its release and Telesa is ranked number one on Amazon’s Top Rated Fantasy Romance List and we are now in the second print run of the book here in New Zealand and the Pacific. Huge love for Telesa Readers worldwide! Are you one of them? Send in YOUR photo and be added to the Telesa Team slideshow that will be a regular feature on this blog.

 Malaki Sefo, Jade Leota, Natasha Fabricius, Francois Martel, Samoa

                                Ezra Taylor, the cover model for Daniel, NZ

                             Isabella Rasch, RLS School, Samoa.

         Lylah Tupou in Wellington, peruses her mum Sina’s copy.

         Jolivette Ete (former Miss Samoa) and Nathan Keil, Apia.

                          Reenie, USA.

  Leone Samu, Samoa – REALLY getting into the Telesa spirit. Check out her abs!

   Fiona Wendt, Auck. One of very first to get her NZ print copy.

                        Marya shows off her e-copy!

                                 Tupu, NZ keeps her copy close.

Kathy Arp and Kristin Tauiliili were the gatekeepers for LOTS of Telesa books. Samoa.

               NZ MP Su’a William Sio, Auck.

               Aleya Perese, NZ – future Telesa reader!

         Young Telesa readers getting their books signed. Samoa

                       Mr Tiatia, Principal of Ah Mu Academy, Samoa.

Marita Wendt, Plantation House and Fiona Wendt. NZ

Telesa bookmarks, an essential companion for your print copy.

Beautiful readers in Auckland, NZ. 

Members of the Auck Univ of Technology Board of Trustees.

Just had to include this one. (By popular demand.) Ezra Taylor, now signed with Worcester Warriors Rugby Club. England.

Jenn Meredith, (the amazing Kuaback Blogger) from Hawaii.

Classmate from my long ago Younger days, Penelope Tevita and her family.

Taiai, Luke and Morwenna. Samoa

Filoi Vaila’au and Laureen Tia, NZ

We’ve got our copies!

So do we.

And I’m just happy that people aren’t throwing stones at me because of this book! yay…

Happy New Year everyone. May 2012 be a year of exciting challenges, new adventures and LOTS of writing and reading!

              Dare to Dream. Dare to follow your heart no matter how fiery the path may be. 

No I’m not Rich and I haven’t met Ezra Taylor.

Wherever I go, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the writing and publishing of the TELESA book. Some of them serious, “How long did it take you to write?…Is the book about Ezra Taylor?…Are you rich now?” And some of them, not-so-serious, “Can I be Leila in the movie version of the book?…Are you afraid the real telesa is going to punish you for writing it?” Once and for all, this post is to answer the serious questions. Some Random TELESA Book Trivia.

1. All up, the book took me 6 months to write and rewrite. Another month for editing and another month for formatting. The toughest part was formatting it. I’m hopeless with Word document intricacies and there was a lot of cursing and general witchiness during my attempts to prep TELESA, first as an electronic book and then as a print book. I hope and pray that formatting the second book will be provoke far fewer curse words.

2. No. I did not base the character of ‘Daniel’ on rugby player Ezra Taylor. I had never heard of Ezra or seen any pictures of him until a few months ago when I was formatting the book and planning the TELESA promotional campaign. A sister-blogger ( who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty), pointed him out to me. He’s a great role model for our Pacific youth in many ways. I’m grateful that he accepted the invitation to be the cover model and he has generously ‘gone the extra mile’ and assisted with book/video trailers and more. No, I have never met Ezra in person. Photoshoots etc were arranged via phone, email and Twitter. (I’ve met his mum though and she’s super cool and an inspiring Pacifica woman – which probably explains why her son is kinda cool too.) When I  read the TELESA book and as I continue working on the second one, I do not envision Ezra when I’m writing Daniel and Leila’s story. It would really kill the creative process if a real person invaded my thoughts while I was writing! Daniel is completely fictional – although many of his qualities were inspired by a blend of characteristics from different boys/men I have met in my life.

3. I can’t point to one place or moment where I got the idea to write TELESA. I grew up with the telesa stories and warnings like most young Samoan girls but I found them fascinating rather than frightening because I don’t believe in ‘witchcraft’ or demons etc. It annoyed me that nobody could answer my questions about telesa. I wanted to know more about her and so I resorted to imagination to fill in the blanks. I have used several key names from our Samoan mythology eg. Nafanua, but I have deliberately mis-spelled others eg. Saumaeafe – because I’m NOT writing about the character from the legends and I do not want people to assume that I am. Read the disclaimer at the front of the book – I’m not an expert on Samoan legends/mythology, I’ve made up everything and anything in the book – so please don’t sue me or throw stones at me if the story doesn’t ‘match’ whatever legends you were told as a child. Another source of inspiration was the X-Men. I loved X-Men comics and the idea of mutants, people gifted/cursed with special abilities has always enthralled me.

4. Yes there are more TELESA books coming. I can say with 100% surety that there will be three books but I am also dabbling with the idea of several others after that. (They may not have Leila and Daniel as the key characters though because they will be taking up the storyline of other telesa.)

5. No I have not made lots of money on the TELESA book. Most people are illegally file sharing the e-book with gazillions of friends and relatives. I anticipated this though and so I didn’t run out and buy my Hummer dreamcar. I’m grateful that people want to read my book enough to steal it – share it because I’m a nobody writer with her first fiction novel – and even opening my book to the first page, is taking a risk on your part. At this point in the game, I’m thrilled people are reading it, never mind how they got it. I received my first royalties cheque from Amazon in the mail last week for the Sept sales of the e-book – a whopping total of $245 USD, which will allow me to get McDonalds for the Fab5…a couple of times. When someone buys a print book off Amazon for $12, I get $3.00 of that. This is still a better deal than that offered by a publishing company, because most of them will only offer 8 to 10% royalties. So if they sold my book for 12, I would only get $1.20…eek! I had to invest a big chunk of money into printing TELESA books here in NZ – but those sales are the ones that bring in the most return. Enough to pay off my book loan, fund launches, and then reassure me (and my bank) enough to get me a second loan to print another lot of books. Maybe by the time “When Water Burns” is out, I will be able to answer ‘yes’ to the money question. (When I tell you that the Hot Man has quit his night job as Head Security at an Auckland nightclub…then you will know that the TELESA book is finally making us some money!)

Hope that answered your questions as well..if you have more, please ask away! All comments / questions go in the draw to win one of TWO Telesa book t.shirts.  It’s been 3 months since the release of the TELESA e-book. To celebrate, and to thank you all for the awesome support on this journey,  I have TELESA t.shirts to give away.

T.shirts come in white with EITHER the Daniel book cover image OR the firegirl Amazon bookcover image. Sizes M, L, XL 

Leave a comment / question and I will randomly draw TWO winners at midnight on 30th Dec. If youre having trouble commenting on the blog, then please add it on the Facebook page, all quetions/comments there and here will be in the draw. There will be more T.Shirt giveaways as we welcome the New Year, so stay tuned. Good luck!

Why we Write in the First Place. (No, not to get wasted.)

Signing books with Jen Meredith, aka super Hawaii blogger ‘Kuaback’.

So I’m back. And I’m a little wasted – no not with alcohol -with an overabundance of adrenaline and by an excessive amount of physical and mental exertion. There was a week of different activities planned for the Samoa launch of TELESA and so my trip home was just a little bit frantic. I only have myself to blame since I’m the one who master-minded the program. As I stayed up till 3am writing a speech for my 9am visit to my old high school and then ran from there to a TV interview and from there to continue delivering last-minute invites to the main launch nite, all in sauna-like 30 degree heat, I asked myself, “This is stupid. Who the hell planned this?!” Umm, me. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I was missing the Hot Man desperately. No, not because he’s Hot. But because he’s a super planner and organizer, never late to anything (and he could have carried heavy boxes of books and set up furniture without ME having to get my TV clothes all dirty and sweaty.)  This launch week was further confirmation that being an author is hard work. I didnt sit on any beaches. Or scuba dive. Or go dancing at beachside nightclubs. Or sleep in and then dine on tropical breakfasts. What I did enjoy though, was the chance to meet with some of my sister bloggers, work with a great team of planners, see my family’s creativity shine ( thank you Mum, Leone, Cam and Dad) and then attend the final event of the week.

 I did a 2hr book signing session at a local bookstore, Samoa Books. I was semi-dreading it because, among other things, I was running late ( as usual), delivering book orders to stores, tired from the week, dehydrated and to make it worse, I hadn’t eaten all day. (Me and Hungry make ferocious, evil music together.) The event should have been a nightmare. But it wasnt. The superb team at Samoa Books had thought of everything – ice water, sandwiches, air con, a fan. Not only that, they had the trailer playing on a big screen, wall to wall TELESA posters, and radio ads running all day to let people know about the signing. I sat, I breathed, and then I had the opportunity to meet many people. There were lots of my ex-students, past work colleagues, old friends, childhood neighbors, teachers. I also met complete strangers and we sat and chatted over books. Mothers brought their daughters in to buy a book and have photos taken- and then when the teens went out – the mums furtively bought a book of their own and asked me to sign it, whispering “This one is for me…” I had to laugh – it reminded me of my own semi-shamefulness when I’m standing in a line for almost an hour so I can get in to a new Twilight movie…surrounded by screaming teenagers.

   I particularly enjoyed meeting the students, the teen readers.  I wrote TELESA because I wanted to write the kind of book that I enjoy reading and have it reflect the environment, the life I grew up in. For me, its the  book I would have loved to read when I was a teenager in high school. So meeting with Samoan teen readers and having them comment, “I loved how I could relate to everything in the book…the locations, the drama, the food and the people. I felt a connection with the characters, traditions and even the afakasi thing.” (Olisana Mariner, RLSSchool) – was very rewarding. The chance to meet with readers was a reminder for me, not to get lost in the busyness of book promotion, or drown in the stress of being a writer and a parent. Because before we were writers, we were readers who delighted in dancing in the realm of the imagination. And to be able to gift that delight to another, even for a short while as they read and enjoy your book  – is a humbling privilege. Meeting with  readers, young and old, from all walks of life, was a precious reminder for me to keep hold of the joy, the reason why we writers write in the first place.

Because we love it.

Thank you Samoa Telesa readers, I needed that reminder.