Teine Sāmoa (ebook) Lessons

How did you publish Teine Sāmoa? What steps did you take? What did you learn and what are your next steps? These are some of the questions I have been messaged, emailed and asked from teachers, students and supporters of my recent ebook, Teine Sāmoa. And because sharing our learning for others to win is just the island way #MorePasifikaAuthorsNeeded here are my top 5 lessons from Teine Sāmoa so far –

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Sorry … Not sorry.

While waiting in the queue for the checkout, doing my final scan of the food items in my shopping trolley, I was distracted by a palagi middle-aged man and what looked like his partner 2 trolleys in front of me.

The man had grabbed a copy of the Dom Post and as the woman was loading food on the moving conveyor belt, the man let out a ‘argh’ shaking his head.

Maybe he had forgotten something? I thought.

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Accidental Writing 101: ‘Teine Sāmoa’, the book.

CONGRATULATIONS to Azalia Le-Valasi Samasoni – the winner of our Mila’s Cover Model Competition. Fa’afetai tele lava to her mother and photographer, Anita Peniata, for sending through this stunning picture for our Teine Sāmoa book cover.

Over this lockdown period I wrote. A lot. Reflections, articles, poems. And across 7 days, I accidentally wrote a book – Teine Sāmoa.

It all started off by reflecting on my own teine Sāmoa journey which was published by e-tangata last year, ‘Don’t you want to be Sāmoan?’, and the overwhelming response to this article. The countless number of messages and emails. People sharing vivid recounts of their own experiences which told the same story:
– Not knowing our Sāmoan language or elements of our Sāmoan culture.
– Being told they were not Sāmoan enough.
– Being told that being Sāmoan was not good enough.
– Not being supported in developing cultural confidence or knowledge and being embarrassed by or shamed for this.
– Turning away from our Sāmoan language and culture due to any/some/all of the above, when all they longed for was to be supported, included and accepted as Sāmoan.

Continue reading “Accidental Writing 101: ‘Teine Sāmoa’, the book.”

My Lockdown Keepers…

New Zealand’s staggered approach to level 2 began today and there is a mix of excitement, anxiety and sadness in the air with people getting back into their new-old ways of life. I am definitely one of these people.

I’m excited to get back into a school environment #2ndHome, I’m anticipating the anxiety our tamaiti and others will still have with ‘Corona’ still lurking around and I will definitely be missing the control I had over my freedom – where I do what I want, when I want.

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Lesona 1: Just write and write everyday.

Since last year, I had heard this first lesson about 10 times by different experienced authors and editors – Just start. Just write. Write Everyday.

My main reasons for not writing everyday (besides denying I was an author in the first place #AnotherLongStory) used to be – Why should I write? Write about what? And when do I write? With what time?

But since I’ve started not thinking about it and just doing it, I’ve actually found huge benefits for writing everyday and it’s helped me to answer these initial queries #Excuses I had above.

So here’s what I’ve realised and why I should write everyday –

Continue reading “Lesona 1: Just write and write everyday.”

Our gagana: ‘the essence of being Sāmoan’.

I miss being immersed in our gagana Sāmoa, our Sāmoan language.

The questions, being told off (or hearing others being told off), even the entertaining and highly animated faikakala reports, which always seemed to take on a life of its own.

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Mila’s Next Top Model: ‘Teine Sāmoa’ Book Cover Model WANTED!

Are you the book cover model for our next tusi faitau, Teine Sāmoa?

Teine Sāmoa, is a young adult fiction e-book which follows 4 junior high school students on their journey of cultural identity and discovery as Teine Sāmoa.

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The Brown Brick Road…

Growing up I was never an avid reader. I always remember being told to read when there was nothing else to do. After homework, ‘alu faitau le tusi’. Sitting in front of the television, ‘alu faitau le tusi’. When asking to go to a party at College, ‘alu faitau le tusi’ #TrueStory.

So it was no surprise that my sister and I had read and re-read the one pile of school books that were accidentally not returned to school and the second hand books my parents had collected for us when we were younger.

Then one day we found dad wiping down a surprise he had for us with a cloth in the back sunroom, where all the books in the house lived. Hearing us enter he proudly stepped back revealing the Britannica Encyclopedia set he had purchased from the door to door salesman #IMissThe90s.

He was so excited as he talked about how we could now read all 26 volumes and will never run out of books to read. My dad was #NoJoke.

The next book that stands out in my reading history was the Tusi Paia, the Sāmoan bible. We had joined the Sāmoan Methodist Church at the time and it was an automatic requirement, especially with bible passages to read and memorise for White Sundays.

At school, my teacher replaced my dad as the person telling me to read a book. The only difference was that the teacher would recommend or select books for me most of the time. I remember reading about Sally going on picnics and Timmy going on family holidays – as well as a long list of characters and storylines that I didn’t necessarily relate to but helped me to acquire information to complete tasks and understand the palagi world I lived in.

So it would be safe to say that for most of my childhood I read because I had to and not necessarily because I wanted to.

Then one fateful night, I remember going through the ‘biggish’ books my older sister was bringing home from her Bursary English class to read and study – especially since the Britannica Encyclopedia set was not really doing it for me anymore.

Then a book caught my eye. It was different. The cover featured two boys, primary aged sitting on a bench. They were Māori because they looked like some of my Māori friends I had grown up with and the author’s name was definitely Māori. I remember sounding it out, ‘Wi-ti … Ihi-mae-ra’. It was called the, The New Net Goes Fishing.

Then I started to read the stories inside. My eyes widened. Connections fired off in my brain. The New Net had gone Fishing and it had caught me.

Continue reading “The Brown Brick Road…”