Telesa

How to Become a Writer.

As a writer who writes too many different things all the time – I am often asked: “Where do you find the time and the drive to write? How do you overcome writer’s ‘block’?” Such questions are a puzzle to me and so my answer is 105km and 14 hrs long…

A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I wanted to put together a women’s team and run in a 105km relay that went around the main island of Samoa. It was crazy because at the time I couldn’t even run around the parking lot without stopping to gasp for breath. But I was determined. I convinced some other moms to be crazy with me and we started training.

For 5 days a week over three months, we would meet at the crack of dawn to go for a 5k run. I use the term ‘run’ very loosely since, at first, we did more of a shuffle, which then accelerated to become a waddle, which then after a few weeks, became a jiggly, joggly sort of jog. Did I enjoy it? Hell no. I hated every minute of it. Many times, I only went because it was my turn to drive and pick the team up. Other times, I only went because the rest of the team was honking their car horn outside, waiting to pick me up.

But after 6 weeks, something strange happened. (No, I didn’t transform into a stunning athletic muscle machine. I wish.) I found myself waking up early on Saturday mornings…wanting to go for a run, itching and edgy for a run. Huh? By Wk 9, I was going for a run TWICE A DAY. And when I got the flu and couldn’t train for a week? I was raving mad. As if someone had bought all the Diet Coke on the island, leaving me with nothing but coconuts to drink. By the time the Perimeter Relay came around, I was running twice a day, sometimes 6 days a week. But more significantly, the running had become as essential to me as eating. Sleeping. Brushing my teeth. I wouldn’t dream of going a work-day without it. It took our team 14 hours to complete the relay, running from 2am to 5pm the next afternoon. Many times during that relay, I wanted to puke and die. But many times, I was also running on an exhilarating high as I gloried in feeling like – I could run forever and never stop.

Writing is just like that. If you want to BE a writer, you don’t ‘find time’ in your busy schedule to write. You make time. You start with a goal. A crazy dream. ‘I want to write a romance. A best-selling thriller. A children’s book. A memoir about my grandmother…’ You set aside a time and a place every day that you are going to write. You start off small. Shuffling, waddling baby steps to get you building the consistent writing habit. You write anything and everything. Start a journal. A family newsletter. Write down those bedtime stories you tell your kids. Record your family history. Write long, chatty letters to friends. Start a blog AND THEN STICK TO IT. The best thing I ever did for my writing career was to start a blog – it forced me to assert and accept responsibility for my writing. Your blog readers can be like that relay team of runners who force you to stick to your crazy dream by bugging you every day for your latest piece of writing. At first, it will be hard. You will probably hate it. Complain. Whinge and whine looking for excuses NOT to write. But if you keep at it, doggedly, persistently – you will hit that point where you can’t imagine a day, a moment, without writing. When you’re not writing, you will be thinking about it. If you have an unruly mob of children like me, you will dread the weekends because it means less writing time. ( And don’t even get me started on the horror of school holidays…aaargh!) You will write because you feel like you will die if you don’t. You will write because you are a writer. And that’s what writers do.

My 105km relay showed me that crazy, impossible dreams are possible.

A Very Sad Footnote to this Writing Story: Since the relay, my first book of narrative non-fiction, funded by the Australian government, ‘Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi’ was launched in 2010. I published four books in my Young Adult series, Telesa.  My collection of short fiction won the USP Press Fiction Prize. My story ‘The Beast that Came from the Sea’ was professionally recorded for radio by the Commonwealth Foundation and broadcast in 54 countries. I have written numerous children’s stories that are published in the NZ School Reading Curriculum. All while being the slave mother to five fabulous children. However, I have not been running anywhere. Not even in the parking lot. And it shows…

 

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A Telesa Movie

The number one question I get asked by anybody who’s read my books (and by people who haven’t read them and have no plans to anyway because they hate romance novels with too many rippling muscles in them but they’ve heard rumors), is:

Are you making a TELESA movie?! *excited voice and hopeful facial expression*

My answer is always – No. I write books, I don’t make movies. And I’ve got no money, no rich financier or amazing producer contacts, so how in heck am I supposed to make a movie anyway?

And the person looks disappointed. Maybe even a little disgruntled. Sometimes because they reeeeaaallly love Daniel Tahi and want to see his abs on the big screen. Sometimes because they reeeeeeally love the kicka** Covenant Sisterhood and want to audition for a role. But most times, it’s because they reeeeealllllly love the Samoa that stars in the books and they’ve fallen in the love with the story and think it would make a great movie.  (Of course I agree with them on all counts.)

So this update is for those who ask me about a Telesa movie.

Last weekend, I went to New Zealand and it was fabulous because I got to attend my niece’s exquisite wedding, spend time with Big Son, eat too much ( so what else is new), AND I met with a producer who wants to option the book for a movie. She read the series at Christmas-time and thinks they would make great viewing. It was a thrill to meet with her and hear her ideas for the books and to see how much she loves them. Three years ago right about now, I was getting rejection letters every other day for this book, so I’m just so grateful that my novel is even being considered for big-picture-things.

Does an option mean there will be a TELESA movie?

No. An option is a contractual agreement between an author and a film producer/company, giving that producer the right to TRY and put together a film package (a script, team of directors, potential cast etc and most importantly, the finance to make the movie). The producer and the author agree on a set time frame for that all to happen., say…six months to a year. If by that time, the producer hasn’t been able to make it happen, then all bets are off and the author is free to grant option rights to some other production company.

This explains why I have not blasted Eminem and danced a celebratory dance on my rooftop. I have author friends who got their books optioned several times over and nothing ever happened. And I have a couple of author friends who’s books have been made into movies. An option is just that. A possibility…at war with impossibility.

But this whole journey has been just that for me. Holding on to childhood dreams of writing a book people from all over the world would read. Then allowing those dreams to carry me through the book rejections so that I could self-publish. The spark of possibilities burning brighter with every book launch and book signing I do, with every new reader who writes to tell me how much they enjoyed the books, every classroom that adds Telesa to their curriculum and every new library that puts this Samoan novel on their shelf.

And now here we are.

To all those who ask if there’s going to be a TELESA movie. The answer isn’t no anymore.

It’s maybe.

Be Worthy

2013 PIPA Graduates. Photo – Letti Wickman.

A Keynote Address given at the 2013 Graduation ceremony for the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts, Auckland.

I’m delighted to be here with you young and restless graduates, and with your families and friends, as we celebrate your achievements. I stand in awe of you. Not just because you’re done and you’re graduating but because of the industry that you’re committing to. Performing Arts – nobody gets into that because they want to earn a lot of money. And it’s not an industry known for the guaranteed stability of a regular 9-5 job.

So, yes I am in awe of you. You’ve finished. You’re on top of the world. Excited, nervous, and possibly a little drunk on this moment that you’ve been working so hard for, for so long. That’s exactly how I felt three years ago when I finished writing my first novel, Telesa. Looking back over the journey since then, I’d like to share a few things with you that you may find helpful as you set out into the big bad world.

1.Don’t be afraid of rejection. Let failure be your fuel. It took me a year to write Telesa in between work and five children but that book was the culmination of a life-long dream. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to write stories that hopefully, people from all around the world would read. Telesa was rejected by more than 30 different publishers and book agents. They said, “there’s no market for a fiery Pacific romance.” (Not even for one with a boy as dalashious as Daniel.) I was tempted to chuck that manuscript in a drawer and forget all about it but this was my lifelong dream. You don’t give up on those. You don’t trash what you’re passionate about, the thing that sets your soul on fire. I turned to digital publishing on Amazon which is the world’s largest book distributor. My husband and I took out a mortgage on our home so we could print several  thousand books to supply the NZ and Pacific market. I’m so grateful I have a partner who believes in my dream enough to bet our house on it. That was pretty scary. But that’s what you do when you have a dream – when gatekeepers say no, you work hard and you give your all to carve your own gate way.

The support for these books has been phenomenal and so very humbling. I’ve done book events throughout NZ, Australia, Samoa, American Samoa, Hawaii and several in the USA. Telesa is a required course text at universities that study Pacific Literature and recommended reading in many high schools.  To date, the book that publishers told me would not have an audience – has been avidly read and embraced by thousands of people of all ages worldwide. And not just by Samoans and Pacific islanders. I get emails from palagi readers in America and Europe, asking me for the recipes to the yummy Samoan food, asking where can they learn more about our unique cultural heritage, asking for recommendations of places to stay, telling me “I had never heard of Samoa before, but now I can’t wait to go there.” My journey has shown me that rejection and failure are merely an opportunity to start again, in a new and wiser direction.

2.Be adaptable and innovative.  Be willing to adapt your dream, learn new things and work hard to make it happen. Especially in the face of failure. I’m grateful my novel was rejected so many times. Without that challenge, I would never have turned to digital publishing and now have the independence that comes from being the boss of my own book career. My dream was always to be an author but to realize that, I had to adjust my vision and be willing to go way outside my comfort zone. Before Telesa, I’d never read an e-book and I didn’t own a smartphone. The only thing I used the internet for was email and my blog. My children will tell you I’m technologically clueless – I can’t work the Xbox and I don’t know how to turn on the DVD player. I spent months reading books about digital publishing, hundreds of blogs and online articles about it, teaching myself how to format an e-book and do all the other stuff involved with self-publishing. I was blessed to make wonderful friends in the indie writer community who generously shared their experience with me. My clever sister showed me how to use social media. I had to become a cover designer, a businesswoman, learn about marketing and all kinds of stuff. Being a writer and publisher is hard work, but I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be a full-time writer and have a job that I love.

Each of you has made the bold choice to pursue that which gives you joy. That which allows you to do what you love – and get paid for it. Be prepared to go out of your comfort zone, take risks and work hard to make your dream happen.

3.Be strong enough to be vulnerable.  You will produce your most powerful work when you speak from your deepest hurts, sorrows, joys and passions. It is then that you will have the greatest impact on others. Whether it’s to make them laugh, bring them joy, uplift and inspire or to advocate for change. But to do that, to access what’s within, you must first be strong enough to be vulnerable. Because sometimes the stories you tell will be the stories that your family, and your community will want left untold. It is my hope you will be strong enough to stand by your work in the face of criticism and say, “This is how I think and feel – and I am not ashamed.”

4.Be worthy. I speak at many high schools and at one, a young girl came up to me after, “Thank you for coming to our school. Now I know that Samoans can write books, not just white people.”

I attended a book convention in Kansas City and a young Samoan man invited me to lunch with his extended family. He said, “I read anything and everything about our country. Your book gave us so much pride in our culture and in our people. I was so proud to be Samoan when I read it. You’re taking our stories to the world.”

A Tongan mother brought her two children to a book signing, aged 6 and 8. She said, “I want my girls to meet you so they will know a Pacific Islander woman can work hard and make her dreams come true.”

In California, a young woman studying fashion design based her entire final portfolio on the Telesa Series because, “These books inspired me to design for the goddess within. To honor my Pasifika heritage.”

A teacher in Nauru sent me her poetry – handwritten because she doesn’t have a computer. She wrote, “Your story motivated me to start writing again, the stories of women in Nauru.”

A soldier in Afghanistan sent a photo of himself with a copy of Telesa. “I get homesick and your book really helps.”

 A woman in NZ, wrote “I have made decisions in my life that halted my dreams of becoming a film-maker. But inspirational Samoan people like yourself give me the motivation to pursue my dream and make the sacrifices that are needed to fulfill the ultimate goal of becoming a Samoan film-maker.”

My dream was to be a storyteller and write stories people all over the world would enjoy. I never anticipated how my dream could help fuel the fire for other people’s creative dreams.

So what do I mean by “Be worthy”?

The incomparable Albert Wendt said of Pasifika, “We need to write, paint, sculpt, weave, dance, act, sing and think ourselves into existence. For too long, other people have done it for us – we have to tell our own stories.”

Each of you has a responsibility. You’ve been given the tools, skills, and resources needed to be a teller of stories – through film, music, dance, theatre and production. You cannot take that lightly. You must be worthy and live up to that responsibility. Every time a young brown teenager turns on the TV and sees a brown face that’s not in the news for being a criminal or a social welfare fraud – that young person is empowered. We are more than world famous rugby and football players. Every time we see and hear ourselves portrayed in diverse and meaningful ways in the media and in the arts – we are all empowered. When you go out there, you’re not just an individual flying solo, you take with you the stories of your family, the collective stories of your community. Because the cold white fact is that there aren’t enough of us telling our stories and owning them. There’s not enough of us in positions of decision making when it comes to the media and the arts. You have the responsibility to do that and be that. For one day, some young person can come up to you and thank you, “Now I know Niueans can work on television…now I know Tokelauans can be producers…Tongans can be broadcasters…Fijians can be actors…Samoans can be directors and playwrights… not just white people.”  And thanks to the power of digital and social media, the reach and influence of your story can go far beyond just us here, far beyond little New Zealand.  Think bigger. Dream global.

That feeling you have tonight of excitement, hope and celebration  – you hold on to that. That belief in the fiery potential of your creative soul – it’s precious. It will power you forward on your journey of unlimited possibilities and challenges. But be ready to back it up with hard work, a willingness to adapt and be versatile in an ever-changing industry.  Be fiery, be fierce and fabulous.

But above all – be worthy of the trust you’ve been given as our storytellers.

Sex Talk in the Samoa Observer

My second column in the Samoa Observer went live while I was there for the book launch…

As a Samoan woman, I know it can be difficult for us to talk with our parents, children, friends and our partners about certain things –  things like intimacy, emotions and relationships. But the world is talking about them all around us and we are bombarded with messages about sex every day in our media, music, Facebook, TV and more.

Who’s teaching YOUR kids about sex? If your horrified answer, is “not me!” then be afraid.

Be very afraid. Because your kid could very well be learning about sexuality from such stellar examples as Robin Thicke (a sleazy singer who gyrates to songs about the dangerous and illegal thrill of crossing ‘Blurred Lines’ of sexual consent) and Miley Cyrus (a once cute kid, Hannah Montana, who now wears a flesh-colored bikini so she can mime sexual acts on stage with the aforementioned much older and much-married singer. Because she’s just so cool and every girl should be like her.)

Yes, the American Video Music Awards are just screaming with many wonderful examples of sexual behaviour which our youth can emulate. Oh joy.

You can read the rest at the online edition of the Samoa Observer, click on this link:

Lets Talk About Sex

Parents who Believe in You

myDad

The Hot Man went to Samoa last night – for the Half Ironman which is next week. Along with his bike and all his special race foods, he also took with him TWO copies of my book. One for my big brother and one for my parents. (the other boxes of books are chugging their slow steady way across the Pacific Ocean on a boat somewhere.)
This is a pic of my dad Dr Tuaopepe Felix Wendt with HIS copy.
      A long time ago, an English teacher accused 14yr old me of plagiarism because she said, ‘theres no way you could have written a story like this! You must have copied it from a book somewhere.’ That story was called THE SILVER DOLPHIN and it was about a girl who falls in love with a boy from the ocean…who turns into a silver dolphin and takes her to his undersea kingdom. (See? I was starting to create Daniel Tahi waaaay back then, LOL)
      My Dad was not happy. He came to school to defend me and my writing, to set that teacher straight. Among other things, he told her I was a ‘brilliant writer with a great imagination” and “my daughter’s going to write books one day.” He had to wait a long time for me to get my act together and write those books – but my father has always believed in my writing, long before I did. I don’t think young Adult romance with lots of angst-ridden teenagers, rippling tattooed muscles and women who summon lightning and set the world on the fire, is really HIS kind of reading material, but it doesn’t stop him from being rather buzzed every time I release a new book.
      Parents who believe in us and see things in us – that we can’t, parents who fight for us – are a blessing and a gift beyond measure.
      Thank you Dad.

Hot Chiselled Bodies vs Babies that pop out like Blackheads

The thing about releasing a book is then people want to know – ‘when’s your next book coming out?’ Never mind that you just gained twenty pounds sitting on your butt (eating and) writing this book and your children have forgotten what you look like…more importantly, they have forgotten the high standards you have for things like general hygiene and they can’t understand why you have emerged from the hermit cryogenic chamber really irritated with the mess and general sloppiness of their lives, bedrooms and appearance. ‘But mum, we’ve been living like this for months now and we’re fine…we like it…we’re happy!’ So then they tell you nicely, ‘Why don’t you go write another book?’ (And leave us alone…)

Anyway, I digress…So here I am, with four books done in the Telesa Series and waiting for the printer to churn out a few thousand copies of ‘The Bone Bearer’ so I can start my book tour where I get to meet with fabulous readers in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Brisbane, Samoa and Hawaii. There are visits to schools and book launch events planned that also celebrate Pasifika dance, music and art. The launch events always make me feel vaguely ill because of the speeches involved but I like doing the school visits – talking to teenagers about writing and career dreams and working hard to make aforementioned dreams happen is always fun. Usually because these teenagers actually pretend to listen to me and be interested in what I have to say. (Unlike the two teenagers that live in my house…) Which brings me to the first point of this blogpost – if you’re interested in having a Telesa author visit your school then please do email me about it and we’ll see if we can make it happen. I would like to go to American Samoa on this book tour because I have such awesome memories of how beautiful it is there, but haven’t figured out how to make it happen yet. (So if you have some ideas, let me know.)

Now to answer that question of: What book are you writing next? I’ve got three books in the works at the moment. First one is a TELESA novella that tells the story of one (or two) of the key characters from the series. If you want to find out WHO and read a piece of this novella, then please sign up for my newsletter because once we get 500 subscribers, I’ll be sending that out to them. Use this link to sign up –

Telesa Series  Updates

I’ll be choosing 3 winners from the subscribers to gift print copies of The Bone Bearer to with the next newsletter. I’ve got lots of short stories, deleted scenes, unreleased excerpts from the Telesa world which I will be including in the newsletters as well and I don’t want to drive blog readers nuts by posting them on here. So IF you’re a Telesa fan then sign up. If my universe doesn’t get too crazy this Telesa novella will be out in November.

The second book in the works is my romantic comedy novel. Chick-lit is my favourite genre to read and I’ve always wanted to write one, Pasifika style. I’m having heaps of fun with it and the main character may or may not have nicknamed the male lead with the nickname hashtag #Wolfman. As in, he reminds her a teensie little bit of…

joe-manganiello-for-muscle-and-fitness-21

 

Third book coming out soon is one I’ve been playing around with for awhile. Inspired by my blogging and tentatively titled:

*The Demented Domestic Goddess: A Survival Guide

Here’s a piece of it for your reading pleasure. Let me know your thoughts on it…does it sound like a book you’re going to want to read? Yes, no, maybe so? So there you have it folks, now you know the answers to: What are you writing next?

An Excerpt from: The Demented Domestic Goddess

There are women who pop out babies like blackheads. Just a little squeeze and there it is. Messy, bloody, and raw but a quick clean with an antiseptic wipe and it’s all good. Such women can then dab on a bit of makeup, slip on that little black dress and they are all ready to face the world like  supermodel Elle Mcpherson. Looking like they never ever had a zit before. See that perfectly co-ordinated, perky child that just skipped past us? That’s their little zit. Always clean. Sparkling. Polite. Never screams. Never poops in public. Never eats their own goobies or gives other children black eyes.

I am not one of those women. And I don’t have mess-free zits that appear and then magically go away. (I have gigantic rupturing abcesses that fester and ooze.)  So if YOU are one of those women, then you shouldn’t be reading my book. I hate you.

This book is for women who don’t ‘glow’ when they’re eight months pregnant. Who don’t post half naked pictures of their ‘BUMP’  on Facebook because you can’t tell their ‘bump’ from the rest of their bumpy, blobby self. This book is for women who know what God was talking about when He said, “In pain thy shalt bring forth children…” And totally agree with Shakespeare when he said, “Woman thy name is misery.”

This book is for women who have too many children. Either because they were wildly irresponsible or crazy. (Or both.) Or because they had a hugely generous heart and adopted lots of random offspring from other crazy, irresponsible people and now they are surrounded by buckets of little people and wondering, ‘How the hell did I end up here?’

This book is for women who love their kids but also fantasize about ways to get rid of them so they can breathe air without anyone else’s name on it. Women who hide in the bathroom for a quiet moment and yet still those determined demons hunt her down, bang on the door, whine, squabble and argue for her weary attention.

This book is also for women who are contemplating motherhood in one form or another. Consider it my gift to you – a reality check of what to expect so you don’t actually have to try it. Unless you’re feeling a little dangerous and foolish…

If you can tick any of these things on the checklist, then you should read this book.  And give it to all your friends and family who have no clue what kind of hell you endure on a daily basis. So they can laugh and feel better about their own crappy lives…

This book begins with a disclaimer : I never planned on being a mother. Especially not to five children.  I’m not sure I ever even planned on being a wife. A girlfriend/lustful object of affection/goddess of adoration – yes. But a wife? No. Never planned on that either. But twenty years ago, someone asked me to marry him. And since I couldn’t think of any other way to be with him forever, (or how to have sex with him without feeling evil) – I said yes. Since then, five other complete people have entered my life, my personal space, my home, my hermit cave. My heart. Some grew in my uterus like little aliens. Another grew in somebody else’s uterus and then alien invaded my life anyway. Each of them has wriggled into spaces that didn’t exist before. Making room for themselves. Like parasitic leeches that just won’t let go, no matter how hard you try to shake them off.

No, I never planned on having a family. But now, here I am – the creator of a clan, the maker of a mob, the lead player of a posse.  A family. With a father, a mother, children, grandparents and buckets of cousins. Some days, I’m not quite sure how I got here. I look at all these people who want things from me, who hug me and tell me they love me – and I am bemused. Who are you people? How did we all end up here stuck in the same house?  Some days, I’m not quite sure that I want to stay.  I don’t want to be somebody’s wife. Somebody’s mother. Some days there isn’t enough air left for me to breathe after all this lot have had their fill and I am smothered. Suffocated by them all and I wish they would all disappear.

But then other days, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Being with anyone else.  Because I am not the same ME. Because each of them has changed me, marked me, challenged me in a myriad of different ways.

This, this is a story about me, the Fabulous Five and how they taught me everything I know about fear and faith. And continue to teach me – because I am a very slow learner. This is a story about how the Hot Man and I contributed to the population of the planet at great financial expense, mental distress and extreme physical suffering. And survived. And still survive. And we are still together. And the Fabulous Five have all turned out to be rather amazing and continue to amaze us. And how we try to love them all ( most of the time) and manage not give in to the desire to run away. By default, this is also a story about the people who gave me life and then refined me in a furnace of familial fury and fun – MY mother. My father. My five siblings. It is highly possible that none of them will want to talk to me after this book is done…

Telesa 3 is Out Now

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News Update folks, all the stars have aligned and the ebook version of ‘The Bone Bearer’ is available right now from Amazon. Remember, you don’t need to own a Kindle to get your copy. You can download the free Kindle App to your phone or computer and then purchase your book. Its available for the next 48 hrs for the launch celebration price of $5.99. Get it here:

The Bone Bearer: Book Three in the Telesa Series

Gotta say, I felt a bit like crying when I finally saw it go live on Amazon. Its been a two year journey writing Leila and Daniel’s story and there were moments when I doubted I would ever see three complete books written and published! These books have taken me to many places and given me the opportunity to laugh with and learn from a myriad of amazing women who I am honored to call my friends. I’m still a social freakazoid hermit, but now, I’m a hermit with a kick-butt awesome global sisterhood!

Each book in the series has been dedicated to special people I am blessed to have in my life. The first book was (of course) written to and for, the Hot Man –

‘Who teaches me daily how to love with fun, faith and fire.’

The second book was dedicated to the Fabulous Five –

‘Who allow me space to breathe, room to dance and dream. You give me courage to write books and then actually let others read them.’

This final book in the Trilogy is dedicated to –

My friend, my sister – and a true example of beautiful, fierce, fiery and fabulous womanhood,

  Elena  Peteru

Without you, this book would never have been written. Time and again, you help me find my way. Better than a happy pill, your insight, love and support keeps me from falling away from the straight and narrow (or at least not too far away!)

I first met Elena when I was young and restless, single, skinny and self-obsessed. I was a first year student at Victoria University and she was the super-cool upstairs neighbour who was always willing to chat, listen and counsel. We virtuously went power walking every morning (downhill) where we would buy pastries from the bakery and then take the cable car (uphill) to have breakfast in the Botanical Gardens… She was there when my mum threatened to disown me for being a skank. She was there when I was a wild child and got married at the (clueless) young age of 20 (she MC’d our wedding.) She was there for me through long-ago domestic dramas…when I chucked rocks at the Hot Man’s V8 car and tried to set fire to all his belongings…*innocent face* who me?!  Even when we are on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean ( or opposite sides of Auckland and neither of us can drive outside our comfort zones…), Elena is my rock. Thank goodness for Vodafone BestMate which makes it possible for us to talk for far too long about far too many things.  The Telesa Series is about women and their often complex relationships as sisters, friends, mothers and daughters, which is why it makes total sense to dedicate the third and final book to a woman who at different times in my life – has been all of those things to me.

Finally, to all those who have kept me company on the writing journey, all those supportive generous readers worldwide – my forever gratitude. Diet Coke and donuts, for each and every one of you!

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.

 

 

When Daughters Drive you Nuts

Sometimes, daughters can drive you nuts.

Big Daughter is a writer and a poet. She is a disgustingly intelligent child. I can even concede she is far more intelligent then I will ever be. (Not that I’m biased or anything. What do I know, I’m just her mother.) I am very proud of Big Daughter and grateful I can be her slave mother.

But sometimes, I just want to smack her up’side the head.

The Samoa Observer newspaper was doing a series of feature articles for the week of Mother’s Day where people wrote about their mums and what they thought of motherhood in general. They ran an article from Big Daughter. It was an insightful, clearly expressed, and very ‘mature’ piece of writing. (Not that I’m biased or anything.) If I were still in my English teacher days, I would have given it an A. I read her article in the Samoa Observer and I was very proud of her and grateful I can be her slave mother.

Then a few days later on, I just wanted to smack her up’side the head.

My Uncle – otherwise known as Professor Albert Wendt – was specially awarded and recognized at the recent Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. There was an evening of readings, music, and tributes to celebrate him. I took two of my daughters with me to the event. So they could have a culturally aesthetic and artistically uplifting experience. Broaden their intellectual horizons. Get their brain synapses zapped in a way that maybe Hannah Montana just isn’t zapping them?

We went. We listened. We clapped. Ten minutes in and Little Daughter was half-lying down in her seat. “What’s the matter with you? Sit up.” I hissed at her.

“I’m bored,” whined Little Daughter. I considered giving her the pinch of death. You know the one where you smile lovingly at your child for all to see – all while pinching their arm and muttering threats of dismemberment if they don’t bloody well behave? But then Uncle Albert came out on stage and she perked up immediately. Thankfully he was scintillating and funny enough that even an eleven year old didn’t need to lie down on the floor and take a nap.

Then it was time for the music. There was a glorious opera number which transported us all to heavenly places.

Except for Little Daughter. Who had her fingers stuck in her ears and her head down in her lap. I poked her. “What’s the matter with you? Sit up.” I hissed at her. Again.

“The song is so loud it hurts my ears,” she whined. “She’s not singing English. How am I supposed to like her song when I don’t know what she’s saying?”

By then, the ruse was up. There was no way ANYONE in the audience could possibly mistake us for artistically literate individuals or connoisseurs of the fine arts. Please forgive us, we are savages who never go to the opera.  I glared at my child and didn’t bother hissing. “Stop being rude. Sit up straight, be attentive and smile. Or you’re going to get it.” She didn’t need a translator, she knew what “it” meant.

The child behaved herself for the rest of the program. Then it was time to wait in line to  congratulate Uncle Albert and “mingle”. In a manner which denoted our good breeding and exceptional manners. Except someone forgot to tell Big Daughter that patience and something called a SMILE are essential ingredients for aforementioned breeding and manners. I chatted to people I knew from the TELESA publishing journey, took photos – and Big Daughter looked surly and mean. “Why do you have to talk to so many people?” she complained.

Little Daughter said hopefully, “Can we go home now? If we drive fast, we can still watch XFactor on tv.”  Koekiki oe e…

Then some lovely ladies exclaimed, “Is this your daughter Sade Young? We read her article in the Samoa Observer. Wow, such a great piece…blah blah.” They were enthusiastic and generous with their praise. I was happy for Big Daughter. Now she can see it’s not just me who thinks she writes good stuff! What nice people giving her positive feedback!  I beamed.

Big Daughter said “thank you.” With a surly, disinterested teenager expression. One that said, ‘I’m sooo bored listening to your chatter and I have far better things to do with my time. Like watch XFactor. Or taking a Hannah Montana general knowledge quiz.

I wanted to smack her up’side the head.

And so it continued throughout the night. Later, when I asked Big Daughter why she looked like a bored brat when she was being given compliments, she was shocked. “No I didn’t! I was shy.”

Little Daughter’s justification for (almost) passing out during the program was, “I think I’m too young to go with you to book stuff. It’s way past my bedtime. Next time, you can leave me at home.” So I can watch XFactor.

I went home and told the Hot Man I wanted to smack his daughters up’side the head. He said, ‘Don’t be silly. You can’t do that.’

There’s no hope for us. I’m apologizing in advance. If you ever meet my daughters in public and they seem surly / bored / disinterested. It’s because they are shy. Out past their bedtime. And I can’t smack them up’side the head.