Dec 20, 2012

getting in the "Illumine" zone

Music plays an integral part in my writing. With my dynamic stereo Sony earphones on and the volume turned up to crazy levels while my family slumbers in the middle of the night, it's a nightclub up in here.

Remember that romantic scene in The Little Mermaid where the seagull tries to serenade Ariel and Eric to kiss? You know when he's rowing the boat in the lagoon? Scuttle was setting the mood (albeit a very unsuccessful one but never mind). That's kind of like writing. For every chapter there's mood, ambiance, an atmosphere of emotions you want to convey across the page--whether it be happiness, anger, angst, whatever. To achieve that I've listened to everything from Bollywood (for a jovial scene) to reggae (to transport me back to the islands) to Ryan Farish, Owl City, and Beyonce.

At the moment I've reached a part in the story where things start to go sad for my main heroine. Like down, down. Her heart is breaking, and mine is breaking alongside with hers. This is what I'm listening to to achieve it:

Pieces by Red.

The lyrics of this song are so soul crushing and beautiful and pure and spiritual. I love the melody, every instrument played, and his raw voice. Bah! :(

Dec 18, 2012

the words every mama wants to hear

My kids attend a Hebrew-language school. Sadly, I don't speak Hebrew. My husband doesn't either. I took some classes and even tried Pimsleur but my vocab is limited to "Hello", "How are you?", "Good morning", "Good night," Good day". We speak English at home with a bit of Samoan and when I force my husband, Farsi.

So everyday for 7 hours the kids are immersed in everything Israel. They've made good friends and my oldest is now fluent. She's also learning to write in Hebrew, and of course that means they read from left to right which makes everything a little confusing for her when she has to switch to English.

So what does that mean? That means I have to take on the responsibility to teach her.

Since she was 3 I have been force feeding her the letters of the English alphabet, the sounds, simple words, much to her annoyance. I have pushed and pushed so she could be on par with the Hebrew and she pushed back. I even got a friend to tutor her. So I relaxed. I got lazy and let it go. I put aside all the books I purchased from Amazon about how to teach your kid to read figuring she wasn't ready. 

Until this morning when we sat to say prayers.

She stopped and gazed at her little prayer book and then looked up at me and said: "Mommy, I want you to teach me how to read now because I want to be able to read my prayers." She is now 6. I didn't know how to read until I was 8 (schooled in public school in Samoa, long story).

I looked at her and smiled when on the inside I was jumping up and down with joy. Yes! Let's do this! I'm EXCITED!

Now I just hope her enthusiasm sticks because if there's one thing a reading mama wants to hear, it's that her daughter wants to learn too.

Dec 16, 2012

The Sea of Tranquility

I get sick of writing my story sometimes. I've written close to 70k, and I'm guessing I probably have another 40k or so to go before it wraps up (yeah, here's to wishful thinking and the many words I have yet to spin together). When I've hit a mental wall, I read. A lot. And what I've read recently has blown me away: The Sea of Tranquility.

Isn't the cover beautiful? To me it depicts a tale of soft emotions and lots of touchy-fluffy feelings but WOW was it far from that. There were emotions, yes, but the uneasy kind.

This is a story about a girl who is running--running away from the past, from everything that was once familiar to her, from something that was torn away from her to a kind of salvation she doesn't ever expect to find. It is a character-driven novel that deals with some very heavy subject matter.

To be honest, I didn't like Nastya to begin with. She intimidated me a lot. I was scared of her and scared for her. But I got completely immersed in the rich language that Millay weaved together to form the most powerful inner dialog I have come to read in a while. Millay took me to the most uncomfortable, dark places in Nastya's mind--to the the kind of things you don't ever want to experience or think about--and made it real, honest, believable, and utterly raw. This is not an easy-relax-on-the-beach type of book. It is a heart-wrenching and insightful tale that breaks your heart but then fills it up again with hope at the end. 5 out of 5 stars!

Dec 12, 2012

pinterest visual board

I've recently discovered the awesomeness that is pinterest, which has helped create the visual and musical mood behind my writing. Check it out!

Teaser to "Illumine Her"

* Subject to change after the editing process *


Samoa, 1918

The last of the day’s light was slowly losing its battle to the approaching twilight, its accompanying opaque horizon threatening to plummet the village into darkness in a matter of minutes. The small islands and its inhabitants prepared to farewell the sun in their customary way—sequestered indoors, chanting prayers and songs. Extended families gathered in their homes, sitting cross legged on the hard floor, with their heads bowed, and young children tucked closely to their parents’ sides. One strong voice would begin, and they would all join in a unified choral effort. Words of praise and thanksgiving would be sung, for the simple meal they were about to consume; for the well-being and happiness of their families; for the hope and anticipation of a safe and productive day the following morning. 

But the chanting this evening would be vastly different from anything the people had ever experienced before. It would be far from ordinary. Far from the norm. The prayers offered would be laced with a sorrow so deep, the songs of despair would be punctuated by painful cries and sobs. Mothers would be huddled with young ones beside them, tearfully mourning the lifeless bundle wrapped in siapo cloth in the center of the room. A father. A beloved grandfather. An uncle. The patriarch of the aiga. Titles and roles that guaranteed a life lived with love. Love from a wife. A daughter. A granddaughter. But a life cut short savagely by a foreign disease that promised no hope once your family was affected. 

There was nothing he could do. The disease was fast moving, killing slowly but quickly.  

The man’s throat tightened and he closed his eyes in agony in an attempt to block out the tormented sobs of mourning in the little fale. With heavy feet he shuffled out of the warm house that had been covered with woven pandanus leaves to the soothing fresh air that came from the sea. It was dusk, and a sudden quiet had descended on the village.  The houses that dotted around the village were beginning to flicker with light from the lamps within. With the clang of the evening bell, the chanting resounded, breaking the silence and surrounding his still form. 

He crouched down in respect, lowering his head in anguish. Another innocent loss. Countless losses. This was too much to handle. His thoughts shifted to the past several weeks. The sickness was too overwhelming for his ability. He had felt it first on the old woman’s head and extremities; the influenza that burned in her blood came rushing back to him to the point that he felt like he had succumbed himself. He wanted to surrender to the pain and illness that had now claimed many lives; take it away and make it his own. But he knew he couldn’t. That it was impossible. There were just too many. He remembered the many bodies piling high to be buried in mass graves and winced.
His mind hovered to the young boy who lay still in his mother’s arms inside, her sobs breaking through his reverie. 

“Doctor?” The boy’s uncle bent down to crouch beside him. “It is happening to my family,” his voice of resignation confirmed reality. “You have seen the others. There is nothing you or anyone can do for us now.” Chase Malek nodded in acknowledgment, his brows furrowed. No. There was nothing he could do. It was all part of a greater plan that was now out of his hands. 

Slowly he rose and retreated to the trees behind the family home. He walked then began to run. He soared, picking up lightning speed, allowing his strength to propel him forward as far away as possible, the wind whipping through his hair, the branches crushing underneath his weight, until he reached the north side of the island. Approaching the port before midnight, he ascended a ship that would take him far away from there. Away from the pain and suffering and away from the inexplicable feeling that was slowly creeping into his mind that he had failed. 

As soon as the ship sailed off into the expanse of dark ocean, its sails high and flapping, he had made his decision. It was time to move on but he would return one day. And when that day arrived, he promised the people of the islands he had come to love that he would somehow make it up to them. For their sorrow and loss. 

And perhaps for his own.  

Check back later for more teasers to come! 

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!

This space is dedicated to anything and everything related to BOOKS, reviews, reading, writing, awesome giveaways, and everything in between. Join me as I navigate through the world of lit because I've also started writing a debut novel and am about 3/4 through. It's a contemporary romance, with a touch of the supernatural, set in the South Pacific. If that sounds like the kind of book you would curl up to with a cup of chai, hot chocolate, or koko Samoa, then stick around!