Freeze Your Family for Easter

This conversation just happened.

“It’s the long Easter holiday weekend. I’m looking forward to our camp at the beach with the kids, aren’t you?” he asked.

“No. I’m not,” she said. Actually, it was more of a ‘she snarled.’

Surprise. “Why? What’s the matter? It’s a holiday! Time to relax and enjoy family time,” he said. Still clueless.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve been at home with four children going on four straight weeks now. First, they were home because the pinkeye epidemic cancelled all the schools, then it was time for school holidays, then two went back to school but the other two have runny noses and an ear infection.” (pitch and tone of voice getting louder…higher…screechier…bordering on manic)

“Oh,” he said. Subdued. “I see.”

But she’s not done. Hell no. She’s still going. “I don’t think you DO see. You leave the house everyday. You only have to be with these demons for an hour or so at the end of the day. I have to listen to them, referee them, organize them, clean up after them ALL FREAKIN DAY. And when I lock myself in my cave so I can write, they keep knocking on my door, pestering me. Wanting to breathe my air. I hate this.”

He listened. He  pondered. Then he had a bright idea. “I understand. You need a break. Why don’t you go out for the day on your own, leave them here with me?”

“No. I don’t want to have to go somewhere else to be happy and alone. This is my cave, my space. I hate going places. I want to breathe and think and savor my space by myself. Right here,” she wailed.

He had another bright idea. Because he’s a decent man and he does try. “I’ll take them all out for the day and leave you on your own. How about that?”

“It’s Easter Friday. There’s nothing open in Samoa today. Where are you going to take them? What are they going to eat? What are they going to do? All day?” she demanded.

“Don’t worry. That will be my problem. You can just sit in your room and ummm… breathe your air…talk to imaginary people in your stories…or whatever it is you need to do, without anyone bothering you.” He was trying extra hard to be helpful and hopeful and understanding.

Too bad it didn’t  work.

“Nooooo! What kind of a mother would I be if I kicked all my kids out of the house? You can’t take them and just wander the wilderness all day – because I want the place to myself. That would mean I’m selfish and horrible. Its the holidays. I should have fabulous activities planned for them. A good mother would think its fun to be with her children. I don’t want to be a bad person.”

He was well and truly bewildered now. “So what the heck do you want then?! I don’t get it.” He threw his hands up in the air. “Having us here is driving you nuts. But chasing us away makes you a bad person? You can’t be the worlds best mother AND want to get rid of your children at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. What do you want?”

“I want a freeze machine. So I can zap them like Han Solo in Star Wars. That way I can have them all at home with me but keep them in cold storage. Just defrost them when I want a hug. Or need them to do the dishes. Totally painless of course.” And then she mused on that happy thought for a while.

While he was horrified. “You want to freeze your children?” Then an even more dreadful thought. “And your husband too?”

No reply.

“Whaat?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Who does that? Who even thinks of stuff like that?”

Who indeed. ..

Please tell me somebody, somewhere in the universe – has frozen thoughts like this? #BadMother conversations like this one?!

 

 

 

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…

 

‘My Own Brand of Heroine’

BrandHeroineWhat happens when eight friends – who just happen to all be authors – want to do something in support of raising awareness of abuse and aid in the work to eliminate sexual violence?

An anthology of eight of our complete novels happens, with ALL the proceeds going to RAINN, the largest non-profit organization devoted to eliminating sexual violence in America and ranked by Worth magazine as “One of the 100 Best Charities”.

I’m honoured to have my book Telesa included in this collection and grateful that I can participate in such a worthy cause, which has great personal meaning for me as a survivor.

Over the past two years, I’ve come to treasure the friendship I have with this awesome author sisterhood (of eight and several more) and I have so much respect for them as writers, publishers (and superwomen!) They’ve been so generous with their advice and support. Virtual hugs and love for: Laura Bradley Rede, Elizabeth Hunter, Abbi Glines, Jamie McGuire, Killian McRae, Nichole Chase and Michele Scott.

Usually, our conversations are about writing (and the challenges of writing in between raising kids and still being nice to one’s partner!), our children, food, books, adorable pics of our pets (I have none, so I must gaze longingly at the poodles and Great Danes of others *sigh*), unicorns, debating Diet Coke vs Pepsi, and plans for the next time we’re all in the same city on the same continent. Such conversations usually involve way too much laughing.

But we got very serious, very quick, when we talked about compiling this paranormal anthology and our reasons for choosing to donate all the sales to RAINN.  Each of the books has a strong female lead character. They are stories of fantasy, mystery, friendship, and love. Every woman has an enemy to fight and a story to tell. This is ‘Our Brand of Heroine.’  With this collection we pay tribute to the courage, resilience, strength, vulnerability and diversity of survivors.

Even if you have already read Telesa, I encourage you to still purchase this collection for only $3.99 - so you can be captivated by the epic storytelling of New York Times Bestselling authors (them, not me!). And so that you can support a vital cause at the same time.

Buy:

* From Amazon

* From Barnes and Noble  

* From Smashwords

Covergirl – Faith Wulf. Photography – Jordan Kwan

Myownbrand_Lani1

Apocalypse – Who will survive?

The apocalypse is here, and it aint pretty.

Samoa has been in the throes of a horrible epidemic for the past month and hundreds (thousands?) of people have been affected. Schools nationwide were closed and businesses are complaining about employees away sick. This epidemic does yucky things to you and transforms your eyes into a gooey, grimey, itchy, weepy mess. For some people it lasts a couple of days. For others, it drags on for two weeks.

No, its not an apocalypse of the zombie variety - its the viral conjunctivitis kind. Otherwise known as pinkeye.

I’ve been super vigilant with hand sanitizer and getting kids to wash their hands. Yelling at them “I don’t care if she’s your best friend in the universe, STAY AWAY from her at school, y’hear me? And no hugs or hi-fives anyone. Remember, EVERYONE is your enemy! EVERYONE is a possible carrier! There’s no room for silly things like FRIENDSHIP when survival is involved!”

So much for my vigilance.  Little Son caught it last week. Which surprised no-one because he lives and breathes sweat, dirt and too much sweaty body contact with other jostling, sweaty, grimy children. Honestly, that kid thinks he’s the bringer of happiness and hugs to everyone he meets – personal space is a foreign concept to him. And it doesn’t help that he likes to play rugby in an often muddy field that smells a lot like a septic tank…

Anyway, he’s got pinkeye. I know I’m supposed to be kind and loving and all Florence Nightingale-like when my child is sick but cut me some slack here, kindness and soothing compassion went out the window after I think, child number two? Or three? No, I’m now more like that “traditional Samoan mum”, the one who, when you fall off a tree and break your arm, yells at you for climbing and falling – the whole time that they’re setting your cast. Little Son has been quarantined to his room and I am unimpressed with his pink-eyed self. Especially when he keeps sneaking out to go play rugby with random neighbourhood children from down the road. (No doubt infecting them all, and then getting RE-infected in return.) Dammit.

Its a minor miracle that after ten days of it, the rest of us haven’t caught it off him. But that’s because Bella has taken my apocalypse survivor fire deeply to heart. She walks around with a bottle of disinfectant, spraying door handles, cupboards and taps. She has hand-sanitizer strapped to her bike and another one in her school bag. And whenever Little Son goes outside, she races to lock the door after him, “Now stay outside with your germs!” After church, she indignantly reported to me that “There was a lady with pinkeye there and she was touching the children! And giving out the crayons!” A vehement shake of her head. “But I didn’t go close to her. And I didn’t get any crayons.” I suspect that if Bella were the Boss of Samoa, pinkeye sufferers wouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets – until they’d been given the all clear.

I should be glad my six year old is so well prepared for a REAL epidemic. Or Zombie apocalypse. She’s ruthless, thorough, and committed to survival.

But I’m worried…if I wake up tomorrow with pinkeye, Bella might make me sleep in the garage and chuck me scraps of food, while shouting from behind a locked door, “Go away with your germs!”

 

 

 

 

Don’t Shame Us. Don’t Shut us Up. (How to better support and empower a survivor of Sexual Abuse.)

This blogpost needs a content warning for rape, abuse and swearing. And it’s really long.  

Since writing publicly about my abuse four months ago, I’ve had to deal with a myriad of different reactions – many positive, some negative, and a few downright horrible. Some of the fall-out from my writing caused shockwaves that I didn’t anticipate and a few personal relationships in my life didn’t survive. I’ve had to do a lot of self-care to cope. I went back to therapy (YAY! for awesome therapists who help you make sense of stuff), put my novel on hold, spent time with my amazing sisterhood of friends (YAY! for the compassion and wisdom of friends who help you navigate the storms of life), focused on my little family and getting the Fab5 settled into their new home and schools, prayed more, and treasured being with the Hot Man more. (When he wasn’t running/swimming/biking…)

Life is back on a more even keel for me now and as I reflect on the messy last few months, I’d like to share some examples and insights of HOW we can support and empower survivors of sexual violence when/If they speak out about their experiences. This is very important to me, and not just because I am a survivo

Fourteen years ago, I was a teacher in a Samoan high school. I’d made it a habit to include abuse awareness in at least one (if not more) of my class discussions/topics, every year, for every group of students I taught. Part of the discussion would always include the encouragement to seek help if they were being abused, to not keep silent. That year, a young woman responded by writing an essay for my eyes only – about the fact that she was being raped at home by her brother in law. She’d told her mother and gotten slapped in the face for her “cheekiness”. This student wept in my office and pleaded with me not to tell anyone. Not the police, the Principal, her parents, no-one. I arranged for her to meet with a local therapist but she wouldn’t go because of fears her family would find out. I badly wanted to report her abuse, to get her away from her family. But at the time, there was no Support agency for young survivors and I’d heard horror stories about how the system in Samoa was failing young people in similar situations – families that beat and rejected their children who made the mistake of asking for help. The situation weighed heavily on me and after many meetings with this young woman, I chose to honor her request and do nothing.

I’ve regretted that decision ever since. Regardless of the inadequacies of the Samoa justice system, I failed that young woman and I’m ashamed I didn’t do more. I’ve often wondered what could I have done differently? Every time I write about this issue – either directly via my blog or woven into one of my novels – a part of me seeks to atone for my failing, and hope that somehow, in some small way, my words can help someone out there who may be in a similar situation as that former student.

Encouraging people to speak out about their abuse is one thing. What we DO with that and how we respond is another. I’ve made mistakes in how I support and empower the women in my life regarding this issue and I’m still learning how to be a better ally and advocate.  I’m guessing we can all do better and be better at this. Which is why I’m sharing the following -

What you should (and shouldnt) say or do to an abuse survivor. (According to Lani because everyone’s experience is different and so these may not be true for others.)
1. Don’t get angry and confrontational, demand, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” 
It can take an incredible amount of courage (and pain) for a survivor to tell someone, anyone – about their abuse. Many keep silent for years about what was done to them. We battle feelings of shame and fear. We worry what people will think of us if they know the truth. So it’s not helpful to react with accusing questions. You may be shocked by their disclosure and you’re hurting because you love them but you need to deal with your hurt/anger separately and not rage at the person. THEY are the survivor and their feelings and safety should be your priority. I had people react with anger because I’d never told them about my abuse – it hurt their feelings. Because they didn’t agree with the public way I chose to talk about it – it embarrassed them.  For them, my abuse was buried under a mountain of their angst.

2. Don’t victim-blame.  “Why were you at that party?…Why were you in a car with him?…What were you wearing?…How were you dancing?…Why didn’t you fight him?…Did you scream for help?…How many beers did you have?…” It doesn’t matter what a person wears, how late they are out, where they go, how loud they laugh, or even how much alcohol they consume – it is never their fault if they are raped. I have friends who have been assaulted and then had to deal with questions like these, from family, friends, police and doctors.
3. Listen with your heart and offer validation. My abuse article was read and shared by many people who then used social media to discuss the issues. Some of them said things like this:  “How do you know she hasn’t made this up just so she can get extra publicity?…She’s probably just trying to sell more books…So typical for a celebrity to say she was abused…Yeah, if she really meant it, she would name her abuser and take him to court…Even if it’s true, why would she talk about something so private unless she wanted attention? She’s only trying to further her career by being open about something so shameful.”  Yes, people really do say things like this about, and to, abuse survivors. There are some people in this world who really do believe that a woman would invent a rape/abuse experience for attention. ( Because yeah, everyone wants to run out and buy a Young Adult romance novel the minute they find out it was written by a woman who was sexually violated when she was a kid. I always feel that way about child rape, don’t you?) And yes, it makes you famous when you go public with child abuse. So “famous” that for a while, everywhere you go, it’s like you have a brand stamped on your forehead, a flashing neon sign: “VICTIM HERE…SOILED GOODS…DAMAGED… CRAZYWOMAN WHO WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT YUCKY STUFF…” And sometimes, people aren’t sure how to talk to you, and can’t look you in the eye because the whole thing makes them uncomfortable and its so triggering perhaps, for their own experiences and issues. So they avoid you. Or call you a liar. Or try to make you shut up. Anyone who’s spoken publicly about abuse can tell you that it’s not fun. It’s not the kind of attention anyone wants.

Many survivors have spent a lifetime questioning their  feelings. Repressing their memories. Some  have spent years pretending that abuse never happened. So when they finally are strong enough and brave enough to admit it, to themselves and to others – please don’t doubt them. Don’t shame them. Don’t shut them up and shove them back into the darkness. Some of us aren’t seeking retribution or that elusive thing called ‘justice’. It’s not about WHO abused us, WHO didn’t protect us better, and what should be done to those people. We just want to be listened to. We just want to be believed.

4. Don’t try to dictate a survivor’s journey of healing. An example – a journalist that I didn’t know, contacted me via Facebook, asking if I would do an interview with her network, about my abuse etc. I’d already done several interviews with journalists that I have worked with in the past, people I was familiar with and felt comfortable about talking to on a very sensitive topic. I didn’t want to do any more media so I politely declined this woman’s request. She wasn’t happy and accused me (among other things) of only wanting to discuss the issue in forums that I could control. Like that was something bad. I’m disappointed that a female journalist would try to pressure/bully me. I made the mistake of assuming another Pasifika woman would have more empathy.

It’s vital that a survivor feel safe and empowered. She knows what it’s like to not have control over her body, to be violated and manipulated. Never pressure a survivor into talking about her experiences. Let her disclose information at her own pace, in her own space and time. Let her decide how she wants to proceed, what she wants to do next about the abuser etc.  Trite advice like, “It’s in the past. We don’t need to talk about it.” and “You need to forgive him/her so you can heal and get over this” is not only superficial but also offensive.

It’s amazing to me how some people think it’s okay to tell a survivor how she should feel. One friend said, ‘You’re so angry these days. You should stop being angry.”  Another friend said, ‘Why do you have to let people see your hurt? You should keep it to yourself. It’s making people uncomfortable.’ My response to them? I’m not here to make you feel comfortable and I won’t deny my feelings so you can keep pretending that abuse doesn’t happen.

The thing is – some days, yes I’m angry. That I was raped. That I thought for years it was my fault. That I believed for the longest time it made me damaged goods. I’m angry there isn’t more support for survivors in Samoa, particularly for children. I’m angry when teachers perpetuate rape culture and tell my daughters they need to cover their shoulders so they wont tempt boys to sin. I’m angry when people who are supposed to love me, continue to treat my experience with contempt, dismissal and avoidance.

Other days, I’m just sad. That I carried this secret burden for so long and let it shadow my life in so many ways. Sad about how it has impacted on my marriage to a pretty awesome man. Sad for survivors who continue to suffer in silence because they haven’t got the support networks I’ve got, helping them to heal.

Then, other days, I’m happy. Grateful for the healing my faith offers me. Exuberantly happy that I’m not afraid anymore. I used to think my abuser was watching me all the time, standing outside the window waiting to see if I would tell on him – because then he would hurt me. I truly believed that, right up through my twenties and early thirties. When I finally wrote about it and told “the world”, I broke free from the fear he’d chained me with. I rejoice in my strength and give thanks for the love of a patient partner and truly fabulous children. On a good day, I give thanks for being a woman, and glory in my fierce, fiery (often chaotic) creativity.

I get more happy days now then sad, angry ones and I’m able to be more at peace with all that has happened. But I will never give up my right to feel whatever I need to on this journey. As one survivor expressed it -

I will talk about MY abuse when and where I want to. I will be angry as much as I need to. I will grieve for as long as I have to. I will be happy, how and when I fucking well please.

5. Be kind and compassionate. (A little obvious I know but trust me, some people need it spelled out for them.) Apart from the negative stuff detailed above, I received many messages of support and encouragement. Extended family wrote to share their love and concern, some apologizing that they had been present in my childhood and never knew what was happening. Friends called to listen, laugh and cry with me. Some brought me love in the form of homebaked delicious treats. Total strangers shared their own stories of abuse with me and thanked me for being a voice for that which they couldn’t share themselves. I’ve been so moved by the wave of kindness I’ve received. Darren and the Fab5 literally kept me alive in my darkest moments in the last few months of mess, with their love and support. A couple of examples from outside the family, that stand out for me:

*A boy I dated over twenty five years ago, who I haven’t seen since, somehow read my blog and wrote to express his gratitude for sharing my story. He has daughters now and this issue is such an important one, he said. He went on to add, “I’m sorry I didn’t know about your abuse. I’ve been trying to think back to when we dated and remember if at any time, I may have done something or said something to you that made you feel uncomfortable or hurt you in any way. If I did, please forgive me.” Considering that we were fourteen back then and “dating” in Samoa meant we only saw each other at church and exchanged notes – his sincere message meant a lot to me. If your partner is a survivor, she will need buckets of your patient understanding, especially when it comes to intimacy in your relationship. Some days she’ll be totally fine with everything your sexilicious self has to offer her. But other days, she may not even stand to be in the same room with you and your touch may make her physically ill. Therapy can be a big help for both of you. Respect for her boundaries is key.

*A beautiful niece said, “I didn’t know that happened to you Aunty. I’m sorry. I love you and Im so proud of you for what you wrote.” That’s it. No long speeches, nothing flowery and expansive. A few simple words is all it took for me to feel validated, loved and empowered. Her words made me cry. Especially when contrasted with the utter wall of silence…or the spewing vitriol of others – who I thought would offer compassion. When a loved one tells you her story, and you are at a loss how to respond? Keep it simple. Tell her you love her. “I’m here for you. What do you need from me?”

*I went to an Awards dinner in Auckland and a TV3 journalist/news presenter who I’d done an interview with before, was the MC. At one point in the evening, he came to our table and was introduced to everyone. He complimented me on my blog. People wanted to take a photo and so he stood between me and another woman. The photographer told everyone to move in so we’d all fit into the picture. The others obliged by moving closer together but then the man turned to me and hesitated. “Is it alright if I put my arm around you and move closer?” he asked politely. I said yes, so he moved for the photo and then asked me again, “Is this alright?” That’s when it hit me. He was being mindful about my comfort level with people getting in my personal space, especially man-people. He’d read my blog about abuse. And possibly my blog about hating social greeting hugs and kisses. At first I was mortified by this realization. I felt like I had that neon sign on my forehead: FRAGILE and DAMAGED.  For a frantic moment, I wished I’d never told anybody about my abuse. See Lani, now everyone thinks you’re a freak!  But then, I shoved that remnant of shame away because there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have clear boundaries for one’s body or personal space. I shouldn’t be embarrassed that I don’t like random people hugging or touching me without permission. That man’s simple act of courtesy and respect for my boundaries and my experience, was an empowering thing for me. A reminder that being a survivor is not something I have to apologize for.  Thank you Mr Campbell.

Supporting a survivor isn’t easy sometimes, especially if you have your own unaddressed issues with sexual violence in your past. Knowing this, helps me to be more understanding about the people in my life who haven’t been able to walk with me on this journey. It’s my hope and prayer they will find the strength to seek the help they need to deal with their own painful experiences.

I’m grateful for the support and understanding I’ve been given from so many different people. May we all strive to be better allies to the survivors in our lives and better advocates for their empowerment.

(I’ve used the pronoun ‘she’ throughout this blog post but only in a general sense because as we all know, boys/men  and fa’afafine are raped and abused also.)

When He Doesn’t Love you Best

A long time ago, the Hot Man promised to love me above all others. Above all else.

But that was before he got his Holden Crewman.

holden

But I must admit, it is beeyootiful. Im half in love with it myself…

When we lived in New Zealand, the Holden only got brought out of its sacred space in
the garage on weekends and special occasions. The Hot Man would drive it to visit family and do errands but we could never go to our movie date night in it. ‘Because someone might steal it. A two hour movie is a long time.’ And of course I NEVER drove the Holden because I’m a crappy driver. So I would drive my people-mover van and loved it. (That baby’s got sensors and cameras which made reversing and parking sooooo much easier.)

Then we moved to Samoa. We couldn’t bring my van but the Holden got a sacred space in a shipping container.
And then there was a slight conundrum. The Holden is the only family vehicle we have here. The others are for the Hot Man’s steel fabrication work. We cant get another van until some money falls out of the sky. And the Hot Man doesn’t want his Holden anywhere near a construction site. Which means, who has to drive his children everywhere in the Holden?

Me. The crappy driver.

He tries to be cool about it, but I know it gives him great anxiety, wondering every day if he’s going to come home from work and find his precious car with a scratch. A scrape. Smashed. I’m pretty sure he checks it daily. And the manner in which I take care of his precious car is one that causes him great concern . The local high school was having a car wash fundraiser the other Saturday so I pulled in and had them wash the Holden, thinking that the Hot Man would be pleased to see it so sparkly and clean. Ha. The man just about popped a blood vessel freaking out about it. “You let a bunch of strangers touch my car? What if they used abrasive cleaners and scratched the paintwork?” So now I drive a filthy Holden, because on a matter of principle, I am not worthy to wash it…

If I had any doubts of where I stand in relation to this car, they were dispelled this morning. The Hot Man was driving out in his work truck when he caught sight of me staggering under the weight of a box of books that I was lugging to put in the Holden. I put them on the hood of the car while I went to unlock it. The Hot Man brought his truck to an abrupt halt and leapt out with a look of great consternation.

Oh, how sweet! He doesn’t want me to carry these heavy books by myself. He’s thinking about how I have a weak back and shouldn’t be lifting heavy things. So thoughtful and kind. What a babe!

Such were my thoughts as this athletic Ironman machine of symmetry with abs of absolute fabulousness, came running towards me. *dreamy sigh*

But it was not to be. *Insert sound of scratched broken record HERE.*

He grabbed the box off the car and said accusingly, “How could you put that box on my car like that?! You’re going to scratch it.” Then he frantically studied the paintwork and wiped at it. Furiously.

“How could a box scratch your bloody stupid car?!” I asked. Incredulous.

“It’s the way you chucked it on there. I saw you. You threw it so roughly. See! It’s put marks on the car now. You have to be more careful…blah blah blah.”

Then he patted his car, said goodbye to it and drove away. Giving me one last resentful look.

Me and my weak back – that’s PERFECTLY FINE BUT NO THANKS TO YOU – watched him go. Amazed.

Then, when he was out of sight? I kicked the tires of the bloody stupid beautiful Holden. Take that, you spoilt brat of a car.

And now I have a sore foot.

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.

Taking Your Clothes Off

jasonBack

I’ve been kind of quiet on the writing front because I’ve been working on three different projects and unsure which one was going to be done first and ready to release. I’m thrilled to tell you that one story has basically got me falling in love and if all goes well – this next book will be out in the next few months. This novel doesn’t have a title yet but it’s a blend of contemporary romance and women’s literature, and most definitely NOT for children or young teenagers. So, no it’s not a TELESA Series novel. (That’s coming later in the year, I promise.) I’m having a lot of fun writing this one because  I can identify with the characters in very different ways from TELESA. There’s a strong brown female lead (of course), she’s got a sarcastic witty way with words (which means I’m laughing a lot as I write her scenes) and she struggles with very complex relationships with her very opinionated, very dysfunctional family. She’s in her mid twenties and goes to Samoa for her little sister’s wedding…which leads to all kinds of drama. This novel is giving me the opportunity to explore conflicted sibling relationships, the dynamics of sisterhood, AND all the wacky wonderful ways that we Polynesians organize our gigantic (nightmare) weddings. And, because it’s a love story…of course, there’s a hot male lead. Or two. Or three. (This character has me brown-girl-blushing when I write some of his scenes..) Anyway, enough already. I just wanted to share because I’m excited about this next book. And I haven’t felt this way about my writing in a long time.

A piece:

The parking lot is crammed with cars. But no people. I’ve chosen my time well. They’re serving dinner and nobody in their right mind would be missing out on their chance to attack the feast on array. The night air is a welcome relief from the sticky confines of the crowded hall and I take a moment to breathe.

Aaargh, my feet are dying in these stupid shoes. And the fat squeezer is impeding my circulation in horrible ways. I throw a cautious look over my shoulder. No-one’s around. I slip my shoes off and hobble over to stand on the grass, wriggling my toes in the cool wet greenness. Now for the torture girdle. I move into the shadows, put my hand up under my dress, a squirm, a wriggle and then an unpeeling of Spanx, down…down. The greedy fabric doesn’t want to let go of my fat folds and it hurts to drag it down my legs and step out of it. A quiet exult, “Yes! Free at last.”

“Isn’t that my job?”

His quiet voice from somewhere behind me has me leaping a few feet into the air with a muffled shriek. “What the freakin’ hell are you doing, creeping up on people like that?!”

He’s standing there with his hands in his pockets, moonlight glinting on the silver grey elei shirt. And the gleam of his smile. He’s laughing at me. I want to scream at him again but I remember I’m holding a crumpled piece of spandex. I quickly hide it behind me. “What are you talking about?”

He walks closer and I back away, bump into a tree. Can’t move any further. Dammit. He’s standing right in front of me now. Close. Too close. I’m breathing heavily and trying to stop my guilty chest from heaving up and down in such an obvious fashion. This close and he smells delicious. Doesn’t this man ever smell bad? Why just for once, can’t he stink? Of stale BO? Garlic? Onions? Old socks? Cigarettes? Please…And then he brings one hand up to lightly brush loose strands of hair away from the side of my face and I can’t think about smelly things anymore.

Because all I can think about – is him. Everywhere, all over me.

He leans in to whisper in that raspy tone which sends delicious shivers through me, “Taking your clothes off. Isn’t that my job?”

Do You Want Daniel Tahi? (his calendar…)

image

Giveaway time! I havent had one of those on here for a long while so here it goes. I have TWO Daniel Tahi calendars to give away. These are specialty items that arent available for purchase anywhere because I only get them done in limited numbers for giveaways, as a special THANK YOU to all the fantabulous supporters of my books and blog. This giveaway is international. To enter, just comment below: TWO words to describe Daniel Tahi. (If you dont know who he is because you havent read the books- then just look at the pictures for inspiration…)
Winners announced in 24 hours. Good luck!

Im Not Ready For the Rapture

image

Confession time.
1.I’ve never been to a REAL concert.
2. I really enjoy Eminem’s music. The poetry and raw power of his lyrics, the story behind his rage and hurt and passions, and the journey you take through his music from the ‘beginning’ to now.
3. I wrote quite a lot of TELESA to Eminem’s music. And some of it even helped me get brave enough to publish my book after so many agents refused to even read it.

So, a while back when I first heard Eminem would be doing a concert in Auckland, I reeally wanted to go. The minute the tickets went on sale, I leapt online and bought two. I went with the most expensive tickets they had…because I figured, this would be a #onceInALifetime opportunity. And I wanted the nicest, bestest seats in the house so I could enjoy the concert in the nicest bestest way possible.

In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I thought i was buying tickets for actual seats. I may even have had delightful visions of plush chairs…attendants serving Diet Coke in sparkling glasses…in other words – a hazy rainbow glasses picture of the super cool seats at the cinema.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

You have my permission to laugh. Go on, let loose with the unbridled mirth at my ignorance. Because my family sure hasnt held back on the mockery.

Because it turns out that there is no such thing as plush seating at a rap concert. Or tuxedo-garbed attendants escorting you to your reserved seat and bringing you delectable appetizers on a silver platter.

Especially not when the concert is being held in an outdoor stadium park. On the grass. In rain or shine. And I have bought tickets to the “Lose Yourself Zone.”

“That’s the mosh pit. A jam packed zone of hardcore groupies who line up for hours beforehand to get as close to the stage as possible,” explained the Hot Man.

“Dude, people are gonna be dancing, crowd surfing and getting high in there!” hooted my Little Brother,” who works security. “You do realize its a crazy mess in that zone?”

“You’ll probably get wasted on the alcohol fumes alone. Or buzzed on everyone else’s drugs,” Big Son added helpfully. I dont want to know how he knows these things. Or why he thinks its so hilarious.

“Mum, you wont like it. You hate it when people touch you and get in your personal space. But you’ll have to be people-squished for at least six hours at this concert,” said my daughter. “You’ll be the one telling people to please get away from me…youre stepping on my toe…thats my hair youre tugging…GET ME OUT OF HERE!!” Everyone agreed that I wouldnt make it past the first half hour before the “nasty sweaty writhing crowd” drove me nuts and I would have to pretend to faint so the security could grab me and chuck me out of there “like a sack of potatoes…” *cue more laughter*

Indeed everyone seemed to find the thought of me going to Eminem in the Lose Yourself zone – to be laughable. When I shared my excited news on Facebook – everyone thought my account had been hacked. (my feelings are quite hurt by that actually…Am I THAT uncool? THAT boring? THAT predictable? That its completely incomprehensible to imagine I would ummm…crowdsurf at Eminem’s Auckland party?!)

Of course, all the mockery just made me even more determined. “Well, I dont care what you think, dammit. I’m going. And I’m gonna have a kickbutt fantabulous time, so there!”

Today I got the event checklist in my email. And reading through it is giving me an awful gnawing worry inside…

Because the gates open at 3.30pm and if you want a good spot in the zone then you need to go there early. And line up. And then wait. And wait. Because Eminem doesnt come on until after 9pm. And sure.theres other acts on before that but (another confession) – I have no clue who they are and while I’m sure they’re lovely – I kinda only want to see Eminem.

Because (more confessions) – Im incredibly lazy unfit and I dont see.how Im going to be able to stand upright for 10+ hours straight.

And because I really do loathe dislike strangers getting in my space and the thought of being surrounded…crushed…jostled…smushed…by that many people for that long? Well, Im feeling ill just writing this sentence about it. Aaaargh.

There’s two more days to go till the Rapture.

And I dont think I’m ready. To lose myself with a kazillion thousand other people.

Maybe I should just watch him on YouTube.

Shhhh…dont tell my family Im having a mild meltdown of nerves tho. Then they’ll KNOW their suspicions of my uncoolness were dismally correct…