My Next Book – and a Croquembouche

She’s a baker and blogger who has a nightmarish fear of flying and she’s escorting her sister’s wedding dress through three different time zones. He’s the tall, dark and handsome stranger that gets in her way… Will either of them escape the experience unscathed?

 What happens when Scarlett has to go home to be bridesmaid to her least favorite little sister - a sister who loves to remind everyone EVERY OTHER MINUTE  that she’s a former beauty Queen? Can Scarlett survive three weeks of tropical heat and mosquitos, and droves of busybody relatives all wanting to tell her WHY she’s still single as she endures the wedding from hell? (In case you’re wondering, it’s because she’s too fat, too lazy, too fiapoko and/or doesn’t pray enough.)

Six hundred guests, three wedding dresses, twenty-four cake tiers, fifteen bridesmaids, parents on a mission to makeover  their daughter, lots of dysfunctional family drama - and ONE deliciously divine man who alternately renders her speechless then drives her to outraged desire - all add up to a recipe for disaster.

 OR to a love story from Samoa that’s smart, sad and joyous all at once.

Coming Soon – something new from Lani Wendt Young, writing as: Lani Jade. And here’s a sneak peek piece of the next book…

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How did I end up here? Strolling along a moonlit beach under a magnificent night sky, with him.

Nervous, so as per usual, I’m babbling. Saying stuff about solar systems and did he know that India just became the first non-Western country to reach Mars? I’m looking everywhere except at him so I don’t know if he’s even listening to me by this point. Does he even care about astronomy? Maybe he’s checking his phone right now, wishing he were somewhere else. Some other country. With some other woman. One who’s not droning on about India and Mars.

Then he speaks and his voice is so close that it makes me jump and I forget my resolve not to look at him. Because he’s standing right beside me. And looking directly at me with that intense gaze of his that I can’t read. The one where his eyes are a shade darker than caramel, more like the sugar syrup of gulab jamun. Yes that’s it, very good gulab jamun soaked in cardamom and rosewater with saffron and honey.

Stop it Scar, he’s saying something. Stop thinking about Indian donuts and pay attention to Jackson. Listen to the man with the saffron honey sauce eyes dammit.

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, iron in our blood, even the carbon in the apple pies you make in your bakery,” he says.

Huh? What’s he on about? I smile brightly, trying not to stutter. Because I always take moonlit walks with gloriously handsome men. All the time.  So this is no big deal. Right? “What about them?”

“The astronomer Carl Sagan, he said they’re all made in the interiors of collapsing stars,” he explains.

Wow. I’m intrigued. Especially about apple pies having their origins in the stars. Always knew desserts were heavenly. I forget about being nervous and look back up at the expanse of spangled sky. “So everything’s made of stars? Even people too? That’s amazing.”

“Yes. We’re all made of star-stuff, hewn from stars.” There’s an odd edge to his voice that catches deep inside me and I turn. He’s not looking up at the sky. He’s staring at me and I am caught in the saffron honey sauce again. “When I look at you, I believe it.”

Whaaat?!

Now I’m not thinking about saffron honey sauce anymore because I’m drowning in it. Jackson brings one hand up to lightly caress the side of my face. He is murmuring words half under his breath and I am still, so still, completely entangled in this moment. This thing, whatever it is. I can’t move. I don’t want to move, in case I ruin it, shatter it. Jackson – his gaze, the husky timbre of his voice, the touch of his hand, his skin against mine, the scent of him – all of it, weaves filaments of caramel glaze on a croquembouche of epic decadence. Concentration is required in case one’s hand shakes and the pyramid of profiteroles is dislodged. In case the glazed trail of hardening sweetness isn’t uniformly applied and it soaks into the choux pastry…

“Stop it Scarlett,” he whispers against my hair. “Stop putting up profiterole barriers and let yourself just be. Here. In this moment. Right now. With me.”

My lips part to splutter some weak protest, some lie about profiteroles? Of course I’m not thinking of baked goods. How could I be?

But then he’s kissing me. Tasting me. I am kissing him back.

And it’s so much better than a croquembouche.

So. Much. Better.

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So I’m sure your patience is wearing thin when it comes to my next book and I hope you all can hang on a little bit longer. This is officially my first foray outside Young Adult  fiction and it’s been challenging, scary and heaps of fun writing in a new genre.  I’ve shared a few pieces of this romance novel on the blog before and I’m finally seeing the writing conclusion for it. Will keep you updated over the next month as it goes through beta readers and edits. Hope you like this sneak peek!

Birthday Warfare

Bella’s birthday is coming up this month and she’s going to have a party for the very first time ever. She’s excited.

And I’m excited.

Because I havent been a very good mother lately and this is my chance; to dig up my Martha Stewart hat and apron and really shine. Lock up the children’s XBox and go all out with unleashed creativity and craftiness for this one day of the year. Thus assuaging the #BadMother guilt. And ensuring I can be lazy for the other 364 days of the year. Cruising on the memories and photos of THE MOST SPLENDIFEROUS BIRTHDAY PARTY EVERRRR.

A long time ago when I was youthful, energetic and had way too much time on my hands – I would organize shamahzing parties for my children’s birthdays. Bella’s older siblings have had…

*An ocean themed ‘Under the Sea’ party complete with handmade glitter fish invitations, jelly boats made with oranges and afloat in gigantic punchbowls of blue jelly ocean, a whale cake, paddling pool AND every child got to use a net and catch a real live guppy fish from grampa’s pond to take home in a fish bowl mini aquarium. I stayed up all night baking and decorating the garage with sparkly ocean creatures suspended from the ceiling. Gave myself Mother Of The Year Award for that one.

*An alien themed ‘Out of this World’ party with slime chocolate pudding, Martian cupcakes, a rocket ship cake (that took me 3 different tries to get right), alien mask-making AND a Make An Alien activity where very patient volunteers (aunty Pele n David) allowed themselves to be totally wrapped in 20 rolls of toilet paper by screaming enthusiastic children – who then insisted on being chased by the attacking toilet paper aliens…

* A fun park birthday where we hired five different giant jumping castles / spaceship water slides and turned the backyard into a water adventure park. And yes I stayed up all night baking for that party too. Three different kinds of cupcake, fruit kebabs, a Princess cake and hand stamped crafts for the gift bags.

Bella’s had none of that. She’s turning seven and since I’m at home and officially a full-time parent dedicated to my children’s happiness 24-7, I have  no excuses. This party’s going to be awesome. (And by extension, I am going to be awesome! Because let’s face it, while it’s not all about me. A lot of it is.)

So I’ve already started browsing Pinterest for birthday theme ideas…cake creations…accessorized handmade invitations…themed games… handcrafted toys for the goodie gift bags… I feel tired just making a board for it all and pinning so many clever things. And truth be told, Im also feeling rather irritated by all these people that make such kickbutt splendid stuff for their kids birthdays. I mean, really? Dont you have anything better to do than dream up this stuff and make the rest of us look bad?!

But I persevere. Because I love my child and that’s what mums do. We make sure that when our child has a birthday party, that they get everything theyve ever dreamed of. Everything!

Then I ask Bella, “What kind of birthday party do you want? A pirate party? A fairy party? A superhero party? Maybe a mermaid party?” Yes! Pick mermaid, then I can recycle my Under the Sea crafty ideas…heh heh…#devious.

My daughter’s eyes light up. “I know, I want a Call of Duty birthday party!”

Call. Of. Duty.

As in the Xbox game that simulates infantry and combined arms warfare of WW2 and beyond. The game that’s not for kids but Bella’s really really good at playing it.

It’s official. I’m a dreadful mother.

Somehow I doubt that there’s any Pinterest boards devoted to 6yro girls sniper birthday cakes. Or ammo party favors.

I’m now working on Operation Tempt Bella with Barbie

Wish me luck.

Wild Fantastical Dreams

If you’re one of my five blog readers who HASN’T read my book TELESA – then now is your chance to get it really cheap, really quick.

Amazon has the ebook on sale for  .99 cents only. Cheaper than a Boston Cream donut! Or a Diet Coke!

This sale is on for only 48hrs which means you better be fast.

Remember you dont need to own a Kindle or an ereader to buy the book. You can download the free Kindle reading app to your computer or your phone and read TELESA that way.
Here’s the link to the sale:
Telesa (Book One in the Telesa Series)

I hope everyone tells everybody about this super fab sale – like, tell everybody at your church, and your work, and your favorite cafe, and your gym (good on you if you actually belong to a gym and theres actually people there who recognize you because you like, actually GO there often enough)

Like please tell your cousin’s aunties’ husband’s mother’s brother… AND all your friends, and your friend’s friends. And your friends’ cousins. I think that covers everybody, right?

If everybody you know buys a copy for less  than a dollar, will I make lots of money? No. (Sadly.) Because Amazon only gives the author 30% of a book on sale for 99 cents, which kinda sorta isnt much.

But, the super cool thing about this sale is that IF enough people buy a copy, then TELESA will break into the TOP 100 bestseller listing on Amazon, and possibly other linked bestseller lists (like..the USA Today listing, and the New York Times listing…) No Samoan book has ever gotten into the top 100 ranking…just thinking about it is making me feel faint. (I need a donut. Sustenance is required.)

Right now, TELESA is sitting on 249 on the overall Amazon bestseller list. The highest a Samoan book has ever gone on the ranking is 133? – which was BONE BEARER when it was first released last year.

A Samoan book cracking the Amazon Top 100 is a wild fantastical dream (everybody sigh with me now as we imagine wild fantastical dreams coming true…*sigh*) But hey, dreams are what make life wildly fantastically fun, right!

So please and fa’amolemole, if you have a spare moment – share this sale with a friend who might enjoy reading a book set in contemporary Samoa… a book that some have called #ThePacificTwilight…a book that makes you fall in love with Samoa (and Daniel Tahi)…a book that’s currently being optioned for film…a book that I love.

Thank you!

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Only Princesses Allowed.

Some people may infer from my blog and Facebook chatter, that Bella is spoilt rotten. That she believes she’s the center of our universe. Of everyone’s universe. I usually try to debate those inferences with those people.

But then things happen that make me doubt my own objectivity in this matter.

Like yesterday, the child came in my room to ask, “Mama can you tell me your secret?”

I don’t have one, I said.

“Yes you do,” she said. “Your very bestest secret. Your nicest secret.”

What is it, I ask. What’s my best secret?

“That you love me best than all the other kids. That I’m your bestest favourite love in the whole world.”

You are? I say.

She nods her head with a satisfied smile and says, “Shhh, we better not tell the other children.” Then she hugs me. And goes to her room. Which has a sign on the door like this.

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I’m beginning to think those people may be right.

Trying not to be #BadMother. And failing.

abellaplaydateDreaded school holidays are upon us again. Except in Samoa not every school is on the same schedule which means I get two of the children home for two (miserable) weeks and then they go to school and I get the other two children home for two (even more miserable) weeks. So in other words, an entire month of disrupted writing, no food in the pantry because all they want to do is eat everything, and non-stop refereeing of squabbles and scraps.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Hence we have resorted to that dire and dreadful thing called – a Playdate.

Bella went to her friend’s house yesterday and had a fantabulous time. They played outside, went to a playground, learned how to make banana choc-chip muffins, went to town for ice cream and fishnchips, made jewellery and did  other assorted imaginative and creative activities. Bella even brought home lots of muffins to share and I ate six one of them.

I was very happy that Bella had such a great time at her friend’s house. And even happier that I got to eat the world’s best muffins. But I also felt slightly ill. (No, not because of the six muffins.) But because it was my turn to host the playdate next.

What are you going to do #BadMother?!

Today Bella’s friends came over to play. I was a woman on a mission – to be creative, imaginative and awesome.

We made jello fruit pops and jello and chocolate pudding. Then I showed them how to make play dough and each girl made her own. Then I set them up with lots of playdough gear and went to (try and) do some writing. I fully expected they would be preoccupied with that for at least two hours. Right?

Wrong.

So then I sent them outside to play ball in the garage – but after half an hour they came back inside complaining about the heat. And since it’s 100+ degrees outside, I couldn’t really argue with them. For the first time, I hate that we live on the side of a mountain and there’s no yard or safe space outside for  children to play. Aaaargh.

Bella’s friends were polite, bright, fun and funny, helpful young girls – which I much appreciated. But after six hours of supervising children who wanted to chat and ask lots of insightful questions, who wanted to do lots of different things every other half hour and who wanted to eat everything in the house – I was exhausted. Because the hardest thing about hosting other people’s children is that one can’t be grouchy. Or tired. Or stick them in front of a TV in your bedroom while you go to sleep. Or turn on the Xbox while you put headphones on and write and ignore them. No, when you have other people’s children in your house, you have to be friendly and fun and engaging and cheerful. ALL THE TIME. This is very hard work for me. Perpetual niceness and cheerfulness goes against my ethical and moral code.

It’s been a very long time since I hosted a play date. Or engaged in creative child-friendly activities. I’d forgotten how tiring they are. How much of a mess so many little people can make. How much patience is required. How much noise they make.

But, I’d also forgotten how nice it is to teach a child something crafty and arty. How much fun it can be to get messy in the kitchen with kids. How loud children can laugh. How much energy and enthusiasm they can bring. I did all this kind of stuff with the older children when they were little but not with Bella.

Because I’m old. Tired. And lazy.

After today’s playdate of (almost) awesomeness. I’m even more old. Tired. Lazy.

And I’m still scraping play dough off the floor and finding rice crackers in my sofa.

 

Reason #101 Why You Should Come To Samoa

The seafood. It’s fresh, delicious and very reasonably priced.

Today we went to the Fish Market in Apia. Which was an undertaking in itself because it took me awhile to find parking and then those Demon children of mine kept wrinkling their noses and saying loudly, “Eww it smells bad here!” Totally making us look like spoilt brat “fia palagi”s to all the fish sellers and assorted fish buyers. (Thank you to these patient and accomodating guys who said, ‘sure you can take a photo of our fish’ even tho we didnt buy any from them. #rockstars)
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Once I’d hissed at the children to “shush up your mouth”…we then bought a fillet of mahi mahi – which is what we had gone to the fish market for. But then we got distracted by some other things.
Like trochus things. “Giant sea snails,” said Bella authoritiatively. #fiapoko
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Eels. “Can we buy one?” asked Little Son. I said no. Theyve got too many small bones. My dad would bring home faiai fe’e (eel baked in coconut cream) every Sunday from the village council meeting because it was a special treat reserved for the high chief. But I didnt like it then and I dont think I’d like it
now…
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Pretty fish all in a row.
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And ocotopus! I love faiai fe’e and the Demons have never eaten octopus so we bought one for twenty tala from this super nice man who let Bella poke and pinch all the octopus on the table.
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Then we went to Lucky Foodtown for some herbs…fresh coriander, parsley, spring onions and lemongrass. We scored some freshwater shrimp that had just come in from mountain streams inland and then we were ready to cook a seafood extravaganza feast.
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I put one section of the fish in the freezer for another day and used the other for oka.
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Oka.
Ingredients
Fillet of fish (as fresh as you can possibly get it.)
Limes
Onion
Spring onions
Salt and pepper
Cucumber / Tomato / Bell peppers (as you prefer.)
Coconut cream. Freshly squeezed is nice but the canned variety is still pretty good too.
1. Chop your mahi mahi fillet into cubes.
2. Drench in lime juice. Add diced onion.
3. Marinate in fridge for 30min.
4. Add coconut cream. (We only had the canned variety.) Stir.
5. Add spring onions, diced cucumber. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can also add tomato and bell peppers. (We like ourselves simple tho so we can focus on the flavors of the fish, lime and coconut cream better.)
6. Chill and enjoy.
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Curry Coconut Shrimp
Ingredients
Whole, unshelled shrimp
Virgin coconut oil for cooking
Onion
Crushed garlic
Crushed ginger
Chilli (if u like spicy)
Curry powder
Coconut cream
Salt and pepper
1. Wash fresh shrimp in water. Cut off heads if you prefer. (We cook the shrimp whole. Lots more yummy juices and flavor that way.)
2. Heat frying pan and add virgin coconut oil. Cook chopped onion, garlic, ginger. Some chilli if you like it hot.
3. Add whole shrimps. Stir. They will cook fast. Add curry powder and coconut cream. Stir. Season with salt and pepper if preferred.
4. Serve immediately. Extra good with fa’alifu taro or fa’i.
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Faiai Fe’e (Octopus in Coconut
Cream)

Ingredients
Whole octopus (and its ink)
Water
Coconut cream
Salt and pepper
Onion
1. Wash octopus, being careful not to lose all the inky juice.
2. Cut off each tentacle and dice.
3. Squeeze ink and juice from the body
/head into same bowl with the chopped
octopus. Stir.
3. Empty all into pot. Add enough water just to cover octopus. Bring to a boil. Stir.
4. When flesh is tender (about 30min slow boil), drain half the liquid. Add coconut cream, diced onion, spring onions.
5. You can now either continue to simmer on stovetop until the liquid has
thickened to the consistency you like
OR you can transfer to a casserole
dish and bake in oven for 30min. Either way its heavenly stuff.

When we were done cooking we bought some fa’alifu kalo (taro cooked with
coconut cream) from the front of Mariyon Store for seven tala and then invited the grandparents over for dinner. Everything tastes better when you know just how fresh it is and you’ve cooked it yourself so that it’s gone from ocean and river – to the plate.

What’s YOUR favorite seafood dish?

When I was in Love With Capt Von Trapp

Last night we introduced Bella to ‘The Sound of Music’. Which meant I had to sit there and watch it too, of course. Leaping to my feet often, to burst into song, so I could show these children how I know ALL THE WORDS to ALL THE SONGS.

So what if  I don’t sound like Julie Andrews, so what’s your point?! I know all the words and even lots of the super cool moves and that’s what matters. Dammit.

I hadn’t seen it for a long time, maybe not since I introduced Maria and the Von Trapps to Big Son and Big Daughter when they were little. It all came rushing back to me though, especially my girlhood crush on the formidably handsome Capt Von Trapp. Yes, I swooned over Christopher Plummer back then. So suave, so controlled, so severe yet bitingly sarcastic and funny without meaning to be? And hiding a tortured, lonely heartbroken soul…*sigh*. The scene where he sings Edelweiss is enough to make even the most hardened cynic melt into a puddle of romantic tenderness. My ten year old Samoan girl self daydreamed of that special moment sometime in my future when a tall, dark and handsome (grouchy) admirer wearing epaulettes,  would play the guitar and sing to me of the Austrian national flower. (which would be an obvious metaphor for his love and adoration for my brown girl adorableness. Of course.)

Hey, maybe that’s why Daniel Tahi plays the guitar?! #revelations

Maria and Georg’s love story was my first introduction to that age-old trope of the mean male love interest who was mean because of some horrible scarring event in his past, and the transformative power of the love of a ‘good’ woman. Can’t get much more ‘good’ than a singing nun after all. But yes, The Sound of Music was the epic romance of my childhood and Georg my first romantic anti-hero.

However, watching it as a forty year old is a little different from being entranced as a kid. This time the Baroness wasn’t the horrible manipulator that she was thirty years ago.  This time the feminist is me cringed when Georg was an absolute jerkface to the Baroness – a woman who had patiently wined and dined him, endured his prickly (rude) manner, gotten to know his seven children (instead of running a mile in the opposite direction) and was going to marry him (even though she was filthy rich and didn’t “need” a husband to provide for her in that almost medieval time of patriarchy.)  And after months, possibly years of dating, he breaks off their engagement and five minutes later he’s with Maria in the gazebo, telling her how much he loves her.  Really Georg?! Really? How fickle you are with your severe charms! Say no Maria! Run for the Alps Maria! 

Okay, but then I was like, yeah, run away Maria so Georg can ask ME to dance the Austrian folk-jig with him in the courtyard …

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So maybe I’m not so enlightened after all. Or maybe that’s the sign of a truly great movie? It can still con sweep people away, forty-five years after it’s original release. Even after I googled Von Trapp and discovered that Plummer didn’t even sing Edelweiss in the movie…it was dubbed.

How did the children find the movie? Bella was rapt. (As were all the other children.) But unlike her corny romance-addled mother, Bella wasn’t captivated by epaulettes, guitars and sternly gorgeous naval captains. No, she and her sisters, had lots of questions about WHY the Von Trapps had to run away, why were the soldiers after them, what was happening in Austria? Which led to discussions about the Nazis and Hitler and the Second World War. How are you people even my daughters?! hello, what about the REAL issues, what about Christopher Plummer?!

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What movies defined your childhood?

 

 

Lessons Learned from a Mountain.

Sometimes I have some really stupid ideas. Say some really stupid things. And then spend agonizing hours regretting them.

Today was one of those days.

Remember how I attempted to hike up the Palisi mountain when I first moved here? And quit a third of the way up? Well, we were out to dinner with fabulous friends from Team Ironheart and I happened to mention that climbing Palisi was on my list of #StuffToDoOneDay. Luisa and Hanah agreed they too wanted to hike Palisi #OneDay. Before I knew it, ridiculous words came out of my mouth. Like, “Hey wouldnt it be cool if we all hiked it together?! …and soooo fun if we hiked it this weekend?!”

Then somebody else said, “Okay but we shouldnt stop at the top of Palisi, we should hike across the ridge to the next mountain and go to Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave! Via the Scotsman’s Trail!”

And I said an even more ridiculous thing. “Yes we should!!” Yay.

So it was decided.

The Hot Man wasnt happy about my idea. He raised a number of different points. Like…me being really unfit. And anemic. And sick with a few other things. “Dont you think you should train a bit more before you try to climb a mountain?”

I didnt want to listen to him. Because I was so captivated by the fabulousness of my wonderful idea.

We set off at 6.30am in good spirits, walking from our house up to the start of the trail. I wanted to DRIVE to the start but some superfit person on the team said, “We should walk. Its not far.”
Five minutes up and I was thinking bad thoughts about that person already…and thinking, ‘maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all…’

Here’s a photo of everybody walking to the start. As you can see, Im waaay at the back. Hmmm…i wonder why.

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The trail up the Palisi mountain is a popular one for many. Lots of people hike up every morning and look very happy while theyre doing it.

I’m not one of those people.

We walked. And walked. Then we walked some more. I didnt feel so good. I also felt bad because my very nice teammates had to keep slowing down to wait for me to catch up.

“We don’t leave anyone behind!” they said.

I kinda sorta wished they were heartless selfish beasts so they would tell me to go home. But they’re not. And they didn’t.

It got to the point where the Hot Man had to help pull me up. While Big Son offered motivating commentary. “We’re nearly there. Just around this corner!” Big Son understood that the first law of motivational speaking is to always tell lies.

Finally, we made it to the top. General jubilation all around.

But the adventure was just beginning. It was time for the Scotsman’s Trail, otherwise known as Seti Afoa’s track.  

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The trail over the connecting ridge goes through dense tropical rainforest. Over boulders, down gullies, under fallen trees, up steep rocky climbs and then more trees and gullies and rocks. My exhaustion was replaced by unease at being surrounded by too much nature. Forest means snakes, wild boar, giant lizards, mutant centipedes and maybe leeches and ticks? I battled the irrational desire to walk around tapping two sticks together – to scare away the bears. (Bonus points to whoever can identify what movie I got that essential wilderness survival tip from…) I began to doubt the sanity of the whole expedition. Especially when we came to the rope climbing section.

Im too old for this. And too unfit. Too fat. Too tired. Dammit!

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But when youre in the middle of nowhere, there’s only one thing to do. Keep going.

By the time we reached the RLS gravesite, the sun was up.

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We consumed some energizing snacks, including delicious cupcakes baked by Luisa and Picnic candy bars supplied by Hanah.

Superwoman smiles on the trail

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The hike back was worse than the hike up. It was hot, the water was finished and my anemic self was shutting down. The Hot Man had to listen to me complain halfway down the mountain and then help carry me down the other half when I was too disoriented to complain anymore. I was reeling. At one point I had to lie down on the side of the trail.

Oh…just admiring the skyline…

I had only one lucid thought by that point.

‘This was a stupid idea. I will never ever try to do anything so stupid. Ever.’

The Hot Man further cemented this resolution by muttering repeatedly (as he lugged me along) -”Dont you EVER think of doing something so stupid ever again. Look at you, you know you could die up here! I told you this would happen!”

Considering that the poor man was carrying me downhill, I figured it best not to argue. Or try to assert my wannabe-superwoman’ness.

It took us an awfully long time to get home and I’ve never been so glad to see our front door. It gave the children a fright to see their mother being half-carried up the drive.Thank you Darren and Mark for ensuring I didnt die on the road. Thank you Big Son for lending me your shoulder. Thank you Team Ironheart for a most memorable adventure…

I’ve been lying down in the air conditioned room all afternoon and now feel refreshed enough to make this solemn declaration. May my blog
readers be the witnesses…

I Lani do promise and covenant, that I will never attempt any more adventures that require some measure of fitness and endurance. I will be mindful of my limitations and first train and prepare phyically and mentally before I commit to anything that takes me outside my cave.

Oh, and I promise that I will listen to my husband when he tells me climbing a mountain is a dumb idea.

A Message for the Twisted, Bitter and Violent Readers

* A while back, someone wrote a “critique” of one of my newspaper columns, questioning how could I possibly know anything about being a Samoan woman when “you sit in your air conditioned house with your perfect husband and your perfect children and your perfect life…”

I was angry. And gripped by the fervent desire to immediately write several blogs about how I have an imperfect life…-  how only ONE room in my house is air conditioned and I can’t turn it on very often because it eats up all the cash power and we then have to eat leaves and sticks for a few days so I can scrimp money from the food budget so we can get the power turned back on. And about every mean thing the Hot Man has ever said to me and done to me in our twenty two years together (the man is a BEAST I tell you. A cruel, chauvinistic heartless selfish BEAST!) And about how much these Fabulous children are really not fabulous at all because in actual fact they drive me up the wall and I often count the days, hours and minutes until they all move out and go to university/prison/theArmy/TheLandOfFaraway. Lots and lots of reasons why my life IS NOT PERFECT DAMMIT!!  An entire comparison of “woe is me…my life sucks so I am indeed qualified to talk about being a Samoan woman…” (Because everybody knows that a real Samoan woman lives in a bush hut and her husband beats her with a broom everyday…and everybody knows that only poor people in bush huts abuse their children…right?!)

* Another someone messaged to tell me that I’m a terrible advocate for women living with abuse and violence. “You don’t deserve to be a spokesperson for abuse survivors and domestic violence survivors. You’re not worthy to speak on their behalf.”

I felt like shit. Especially because this ‘someone’ is a person who’s supposed to know me well. Immediately I started going through everything I’ve ever done in my life that could possibly help me out in a court of law deciding whether or not ‘Lani Young is a Shitty Advocate for Women and Abuse Survivors.’  I needed evidence to prove my innocence. To establish my worth.

* Another someone bombed my Facebook page with curse words and threats, Eff-wording my family, my parents…calling me a “filthy molested whore” who needed to be silenced and have my words “erased”. They systematically went through all my posts over a 48hr period and plastered hate-filled rants all over them, slamming my Wendt family for being ‘mutt half-blood’ Samoans who have no titles…and more. The same person also set up several public FB pages – ‘Lani Wendt Young has herpes.’ and ‘Lani Wendt Young is the Dumbest Woman in History’.

I was afraid. For my children. What if this person lived in Samoa? What if they came across my children somewhere and screamed abuse at them, took out their twisted frustrations and hatefulness on them? I was even a little afraid for myself. What if this person is at the next book signing event I do somewhere overseas and they physically tried to hurt me? And yes, I almost wanted to cry because while I was prepared for people not to like my books or my blogs – I wasn’t ready for people to despise me and want to eliminate me for them and to possibly put my family’s safety at risk. I spent several days fretting over this, not being able to sleep because of this. NOT WRITING because of this. Not wanting to leave my house because of this. While the Hot Man told me to issue an invitation to the twisted, nasty anonymous FB troll “Tell him to come to our house and threaten us so I can beat the crap out of him…Tell him I would LOVE to talk to him in person…”

* Another someone went through this blog and wrote, “I’ve read nothing in your work that benefits a single person, or helps a developing mind. I could in fact use your written word, in print, to prove legal madness and deem you insane and a harm to others, that’s how bad your work is.” To give legitimacy to their argument, they went to a whole lot of trouble to create a fake email, ‘crazyWendtFamily@gmail.com’ and a fake url, http://smarterthanyou@gmail.com.

This time I laughed. A lot. Give that person bonus points for creativity?

This time, I’m done. Because I have finally accepted:

I don’t need to justify myself or my words to anyone. Especially not to random bloggers, keyboard warriors, or anonymous haters and twisted individuals who have nothing better to do with their time than create entire alter-ego online identities so they can chuck rubbish at other people. Not only that, I don’t even need to justify myself and my words to supposed friends and family who don’t like the way I advocate for the issues that have personal meaning for me and that impact on many others who are voiceless.

Cos here’s the thing. Do I have some strong “controversial” opinions about some “sensitive” difficult topics? Yes I do. Do I write and speak about them openly and publicly? Yes I do. Does it mean everybody has to like what I have to say? No, they don’t. But that doesn’t give them the right to try and shame / bully / harass / degrade / threaten me or my family. And I don’t have to be patient and polite and continuously smilingly diplomatic to people who are rude and obnoxious to me in public, private and on social media.

If you don’t like what I write about – then can I suggest some options.

a. Don’t read my work. Don’t download my books, don’t read my blog, don’t buy the newspaper if you see my face in it, don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll be happy and so will I.

b. Do read it. Then analyse what’s wrong with it and write a critique of the content like an intelligent, articulate person. I read those kinds of critiques and learn from them and am influenced by them. Not a pathetic criticism of my air conditioned bedroom and a cheap shot dig at how hot my husband is or how fabulous my kids are. Because let’s face it, he is hot. The man is a 44yr old elite athlete Ironman machine and he works his ass off to be a decent husband, father and provider.  And my children (while they can get on my nerves), are pretty fabulous. I work very hard at my marriage and at being a parent so I don’t need to apologize for what I’ve achieved together with my partner and my children – just to appease your envy.

c. Don’t send me private messages of loathing. Or make anonymous criticisms of what I write on my blog and in my newspaper columns. Instead, put that time to good use and go write your own blog or write your own letters to the newspaper. With your name on them. I don’t claim to be a perfect advocate for women and survivors of abuse, but what matters is that I’m trying to do something about gender violence, in my own small way with the tools that I have at hand. You don’t like what I’m doing? Then get out there and do something different to add your voice and your efforts to the advocacy efforts.

“If you are not also in the arena, getting your butt kicked – then I’m not interested in your feedback.” Dr Brene Brown.

Because at the end of the day, what matters is that I have the courage to own my beliefs and my feelings. I put my name on my words and I carry them with me wherever I go. My opinions have won me some allies and admirers, that is true, but they have also lost me friends and family, and sown dischord in relationships and settings that were once of great strength to me.

I have no time or patience anymore for the random haters. Either put up or shut up.

adaringgreatly

And now that I’ve written allllllllllll that when I should have been working on my latest book, I realize I probably should have just copied and pasted this lovely message from that kick-butt awesome blogger woman Jody who I greatly admire over at ‘Fagogo mai Samoa’… She’s been having trouble with some anonymous rubbish throwers lately so she blogged this – (Click on it and go read it…)

Wee Message.

(Many thanks to Rebecca Luteru  in the comments for linking me to a fabulous talk by Dr Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, in which she quotes from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech on ‘The Man in the Arena’.)

 

 

 

A New Husband for Me

Went for a drive with the demons, parked outside a shop and I was busy telling the Hot Man he shouldn’t drink EIGHT Diet Coke’s in a single day because “you’re ruining your liver and you’re going to get sick and die”

He says, “Don’t worry, you will find another husband no problem.” Auuuu!

Then Bella leaps into the conversation very loudly, pointing at a random (raggedy thug’gish) man smoking something suspicious by the roadside – “He can be your new husband mum! That man there in the white shirt.”

The poor (raggedy thug’gish) man can hear her and looks confused. Say what?!

Before anyone can react though, Bella pats her Dad on the shoulder reassuringly, “Don’t worry Dad. When Mum dies I will look very hard, everywhere in the world for a very pretty, very nice lady for you to marry.”
So in other words, this child will chuck her mum to the nearest random unsuspecting (raggedy thug’gish) man she sees BUT she will travel the four corners of the earth to find a perfect wife for her grieving dad to ensure his happiness.

Ma’imau lou alofa.