Friday, 17 October 2014


The process of writing a book is a personal one. I've never met two writers whose processes are alike, but I have met enough to know that the above image would resonate with many. Our self-confidence fluctuates, our enthusiasm wilts then revives. It's a see-saw, a swing, a frikkin' roundabout of emotions that range from energising to debilitating.

At the time of this blog post, I am within two pages of finishing a novella due for release in early 2015. When I first started writing Driftwood Summer (working title), I was unstoppable. I missed meals. I jabbered about these characters like they were best friends. Now, I'm self-shaming myself into finishing, because my mind's already moved on to new characters. Better friends.

It's often this way for me. I need to knock out the ending fast, or I lose momentum and get cranky. Watch me, by the end of today I'll have written 'The End' and completely forgotten the struggle to get there. "It was a joy!" I'll crow. Yeah, right. Pass the chocolate.

I am also two days into a new project (I know, bad writer!), and utterly overwhelmed with the possibility of it. It's unlike anything I've ever done before, and it took stumbling across the above image for me to realise I want to map its journey from inception to completion. If it's ever truly complete, that is.

See? Unless anything I've ever done before. It has no visible end.

So, I'm marking the moment. I'm about to pop over to Twitter and post my first new project update. The hashtag #theregulars will feature in every update, and in time - at a significant milestone - I'll use it to track my progress, both in words written, and mood.

I'm keeping myself accountable by writing in a day-to-a-page diary. I'm loving the practice of it so far, because one page isn't overwhelming on the days when I'm not sparking, and one page is teasing on the days when I am. I don't run over on to the next page, but wait, impatient for the next day. The diary is dragging me forward, and with me, undeniable progress.

I've got to say, there's also something nostalgic and boundless about handwriting an excerpt. Away from the internet and the internal editor, connected with the friction on the page and the liquid sweep of the pen. I don't hand write enough. I'm typically too impatient for it because I'm such a fast typer, but this exercise is getting me back to that. It's slowing me down, which in this instance, is a good thing.

Each day's writing does not have to be connected to the day before. It can be a new scene, a new excerpt. It can be set wherever and about whatever is resonating with me at the time. This reduces further pressure. It doesn't even have to be about The Regulars, even though that's what I'll be tracking.

Being a typically chronological writer, I'm broadening my skillset and challenging myself to follow my inspiration, however disconnected it may be.

In conclusion, for those of you who are interested in following a writer's process - through the mire of every emotion imaginable - I welcome you on board.

If you don't have Twitter, I'll be regularly posting the #theregulars feed on my website, so you can follow it there.

For those of you who followed my recent holiday posts, apologies, I'm home, and my nose is back to the grindstone. In good news, though, if you enjoyed all the mischief and madness of my trip, stay tuned. Many of my experiences will be making their way into books for you to enjoy in the not too distant future!

Until next time.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Donkeys, squids and lava stones

Today is the last full day of my Greek Island Hopping tour; after breakfast tomorrow, I’m done with all my tours and will be making my own way for the next few months.

I’ve been to Greece before – it captured my imagination and for seven years I wasn’t able to still the rattle in my heart – the piece of Greece I’d brought home with me last time. So I returned to Athens – gave the city way too much of my time – then escaped to the islands.

Mykonos was brilliant, and I loved it all over again. I got lost in the back streets of town, watched a bride walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams, and unwound. Being an early bird, I got one of the famous beaches to myself one morning, which was a highlight. I also stimulated the local economy with some enthusiastic shopping.

Paros, an island I knew nothing about prior to arriving, surprised me with its creativity and intimacy. The jewellery makers on Paros are so gifted, I defy anyone to leave the island without a new trinket. Paros had the same narrow, white-walled cobblestone streets of Mykonos, and yet it had a fraction of the tourists and an abundance of charm. I went to a fishing village where squid were drying in the sun, trawlers were lurching against the sea walls, and nets were unrolled on footpaths, and I loved it.

Highly recommended.

The third and final island on my hopping tour was Santorini.

Oh, Santorini.

It’s as good as people say. It’s better than they describe. It’s something else entirely.

White buildings cling to kilometres of cliffs. The roof of one building is the floor of another. Streets of glamorous clothes, glittering jewellery and all manner of souvenirs make for a dazzling walk about town. Thousands gather for the sunset each night, as we did, and a short boat ride away, a volcano waits.

This, we climbed. I dragged my bung foot up to the crater, toes be damned, and later swam through thermal spring water to a mud bath. The group isn’t entirely sure we weren’t duped, and that the mud had no beneficial properties at all, but either way, excellent photos were born. Following this, we conquered the cliffs on donkeys, and had a brilliant night out in town.

In all, the tour has been fantastic. Brilliant people, awesome locations, and more rattles in my heart. 

Now I’m bound for Athens, looking back on photos and making big decisions about what comes next. 

In the immediate future, London. 

Beyond that, stay tuned.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Small Town Storm, CLUE Award Winner!

I am beside myself excited to share that Small Town Storm came first in the Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media CLUE Awards for Thriller, Mystery, & Suspense Fiction! 

It went through *seven* rounds of judging, isn't that extraordinary?

I'm so, so thrilled and flattered. Thank you, Chanticleer, the contest coordinators, and the judges - you've put the hugest smile on my face.

The CLUE Awards First in Category Winners

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Broken bones, nights under the stars, and fear eyes

I’ve spent the last week cruising the Mediterranean on a gorgeous gulet boat with a group of people I will never forget. I had been nervous for months about who I would be contained to a boat with, but I got to travel with some truly brilliant people. One in particular became a fast friend, and another really made the trip shine.

The days were as lazy as you might imagine – sun, swimming and sleep, with the occasional shift in order. Me, I was the oddity cheerfully writing on my laptop when others were dozing or reading. Apparently it takes more than eight days for me to wilfully do little to nothing. Still bent on ‘how can I make the most of this time’, it seems.

That being said, I’ve got the skeleton of what I hope will be a cracker of a book. Boat politics, drama, and of course, romance.

I went scuba diving. And sucked at it. Throw me into the sky from 2,000 metres, sure, let’s do this – but put me in a suit that covers everything but my face (then cover my face with something else), weigh me down under water and insist I breath through a Darth Vader mouthpiece? Get stuffed.

I went through with it. All my photos have fear-eyes, but I ticked the experience box. I insisted on two emergency surfaces and spent half the dive too freaked to turn my head, but I eventually enjoyed myself. After my instructor put a frikkin’ sea anemone on my hand – enjoyment was a while after that.

Those little buggers have squishy sucker feet, and it walked on me. Having had one of its friends bury a 6cm long barb in my toe which I couldn’t get out for three weeks, I was understandably uncomfortable with its proximity.

I’ve seen a sunken city. Lycian tombs. An old castle. I’ve snorkelled, leapt off the boat and accumulated more bruises than looks kosher. We’ve had a party nearly every night, and I’m managing about four hours of sleep a night. And on one of those nights, when I hadn’t even had a drink, I fell.

I broke three toes. My foot hit the side of the boat so hard it shattered one of my toenails, and the bruise on my back makes people lurch away from me, horrified. I ruptured some blood vessels. Ask me if you want photos - I don't want to force that picture on anyone. 

Now, think of what you’ve read so far. The exploring. The parties. The getting in and out of small boats to be shuttled to islands… add broken toes, and a constant rolling, lurching boat.

The glorious, constant pain. But what can you do?

Apparently you can use a naked lady stirring stick as a makeshift splint. No kidding. When I get back to port I’m going to get a raised eyebrow from a doctor, I’m sure – ha!

My parents were sympathetic and alarmed when I told them, but I have a tiny suspicion they weren’t too surprised. This kind of thing – a ridiculous injury or incident – happens too often to shock anymore, I think. Before I left for my trip I had a fight with a table and ended up with bruised ribs. I'm that kind of girl. I'm pretty sure the captain was keen to get me off the boat - every time I walked past him he shot out a hand and said, 'Be careful!'. Haha. 

It has been wonderful relaxing (in my own way), meeting amazing people, and getting a greater understanding of life on the ocean. The crew live and breathe it, and that kind of connection with something – that complex, deep magnetism – has resonated with me.

It’s been an entirely different pace from any other trip I’ve been on. And if I were to write a book about this last week that was more fact than fiction, it would have all the romance of the great love stories, all the upheavals of different personalities forced together, and a protagonist who just couldn’t stop smiling.

On to Athens next for four days of leisure and history. Then ten days in the Greek islands with sand, sun, and hopefully a legitimate splint.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Going postal and channelling Mary Poppins

It’s 8:40am and thirty-one degrees; and because I’m wearing my heaviest things to avoid excess luggage fees, I am sweltering. The domestic departures building of Istanbul makes my muscles tense. There are constant alarms that no one seems to be attending to, the signage is easy to misunderstand, and there are people everywhere. Polis patrol the entrance with semi-automatics, the announcer’s voice is so thickly accented that whenever she speaks, I concentrate so hard my temple ticks. My second airport transfer confirms that my first driver was hopelessly lost – an hour lost, in fact. I did wonder why it took so long to get to the hotel! And yet I look around, and everything’s getting done. People are getting where they need to go, I have the right ticket, and soon I will have a gate number.

Maybe it’s just chaotic to my eyes.

My tour finished yesterday morning. A few of us met for a final breakfast together, goodbyes were said, then I was a solo traveller again.

I ran into a friend and went on a boat trip along the Bosporus Strait, seeing Istanbul from the water. I visited New Mosque, as beautiful as the Blue Mosque, but with five - yes, five - other people, not five thousand. I took on the Bazaar by myself and haggled like a pro (please note: I am anything but a haggling expert… it’s a long story), and ended up with the most beautiful, most breakable souvenir imaginable. It’s big, it’s cumbersome, and now it’s mine.

So I mailed it home. Which was an experience in itself.

This was my fourth attempt at a post office – the first to third encountered such cultural barriers that I left without success. This time I was ushered into a room that I swear I shouldn’t have been in. There were parcels stacked half-way to the ceiling. On trolleys, on the floor. On counter-tops and under arms. They only accepted cash payments.

I was starting to think I’d never see my stuff again.

Either way, it was taped up to within an inch of its life, stamped and stacked.

This all happened yesterday, and I am still thanking the inventor of bubble wrap.

I packed so much into yesterday, and was in the sun for so long, that I collapsed into bed at 5:00pm. Like an absolute rock star, am I right?

It turns out domestic flights within Turkey have a 15kg checked baggage allowance. This was alarming news, as I had 20kg when I left Australia. I have since bought things. But during a lunch break at a shopping complex the other day, I bought a Mary Poppins bag. It just keeps swallowing stuff, whilst looking near-empty. The thing’s magic, I tell you, and it opens flat!

So here I am, waiting at the airport for the next leg of my fabulous journey. Turkey’s not behind me yet – I’m off to Dalaman, then Fethiye, where I board a wooden gullet boat to cruise the Mediterranean bays and harbours.

I can’t seem to get enough sleep. All this sun’s wiping me out and adrenaline’s only getting me so far, so I can hardly wait for my next tour – a little over a week of relaxing, something I’ve only recently reacquainted myself with.

Bring it on, I say. I’m ready for my biggest worries to be charging my camera and reapplying my sunscreen.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Free-falling, Trojans, and ANZAC poppies

Today I visited Gallipoli. As an Australian, as a student of history, and as a human being – the place moved me. I left there feeling many things, but mostly gratitude. Gratitude that I could be in this country and be welcomed warmly, gratitude that men and women laid down their lives so that we might live as we choose.

I am honoured to have been to such a place, even though the earth was once damp with blood and the air thick with screams and gunfire. Because it wasn’t all bad. I learned of kindness which occurred during the ceasefires, of mateship and courage. I heard the story of the Australian soldier who took a piece from the lone pine home and grew it, who then returned with a piece when the original tree died. It’s kind of like its grandson stands there now.

I saw the Turkish memorials, and the New Zealand ones. I paid my respects, I re-read Ataturk’s wonderful words to the mothers of our diggers, and I listened. It’s so peaceful there. The waves were soft, the poppies were brilliant red in the sunshine. Those who never left can be at peace there.

In other news, I’ve ticked a few other things off the bucket list.

Namely the library at Ephesus, the ruins of Troy, the cotton castles of Pammukale, and the Altar of Zeus. Oh, and I leapt off a 2,000 metre high mountain – how could I have forgotten that?

The cotton castles were interesting natural formations caused by calcium rich water. It was a hot day when we visited, made hotter by the thirty-odd degree spring waters. I traipsed up and down the spectacular amphitheatre, shuffled through the pools and took an unexpected ride out to ancient coffins and tombs. I don’t know how I did it all without passing out, but it was excellent.

Ephesus was excellent. Just… excellent. I’ve wanted to see the library at Ephesus for as long as I can remember, and when it happened – when I was standing there – I couldn’t quite come to terms with it. So I sat and soaked it all in. Spent very little time with the group, as I lingered in a lot of places and charged ahead to others. Another scorching day, and walking on marble made things twice as toasty. I was also hot under the collar after hearing that Antony gave all the books and scrolls from Ephesus to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. These were later lost – burned, pillaged. In short, he gave away his people’s knowledge for love. There’s romance, and then there’s that.

I visited a night bazaar, which was brilliant fun. My jewellery collection grows. I can justify it by saying such items take up little space and add little weight, yet if I were to display all my jewellery, I could rival one of those shops. That’s all I’m saying on that.

Troy was everything I hoped it would be. More, even. My tour manager warned me that I might be disappointed, but I wasn’t expecting the likes of Pergamon or Ephesus – I knew there was little left. And yet there was so much. And a turtle. Of all things to be following me around Turkey, I keep seeing turtles. I loved the ruins, and had a ball with the Trojan Horse. Everyone was sticking their heads out of the windows and smiling, but not me – I race up there, throw my upper body out the window, thrust my finger forward and yell ‘Charge!’

It may just be my favourite photo ever.

I parasailed, too. Leapt right off the top of a 2,000 metre high mountain and sailed around for forty minutes. Fethiye is gorgeous from the air. Proper photos to come. All I have at the moment is a selfie of me in a big helmet. Possibly the only thing containing my enormous smile, I think.

I’ve been sick for a few days, so there was a time I was struggling to speak in complete sentences, but I’ve bounced back and I’m ready for the rest. Today’s our last day of the Turkey Explored trip. Tonight we hit Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, then we have our last group dinner and part ways in the morning. I have a little bit of downtime, then I’m flying back to Fethiye – the British resort town where my gullet cruise departs.

A whole week sailing the gorgeous Mediterranean coastline, swimming over ruins, diving into history, and contemplating the stars.

Above: my bird's eye view of Fethiye.

Above: I was this happy to see the library at Ephesus.

Above: the wonderful ancient city of Pergammon.

Above: my emphatic public address at Troy. Crowd to be confirmed.

Above: leading the charge at Troy.

Above: ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli

Above: Ataturk's wonderful words to our diggers and their mothers.

Above: rooftop Istanbul.

Above: sunset Istanbul.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Turkey Time

Fifteen more people have seen me naked.

How's that for an opener?

But I get ahead of myself.

Everything changes so much within a few days. When I arrived in Turkey it reminded me of a rabbit warren. Chaotic. Impossible to understand. The passport line at immigration took near on an hour to get through and the traffic makes me flinch (what safe breaking distance?). But the country is infinitely less frightening now. It’s… stirring. Confronting. Beautiful and peaceful.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still had my share of noise. I’ve lost count of the amount of Turks who’ve shouted at me (their standard volume, I think) and the car horns are endless – but there’s also something reverent about this place.

I met my tour group at my opulently decorated Sirkeci hotel, and everyone fell into fast friendships. There’s twenty-four of us – which has turned out to be a really great size – and our Turk guide is fantastic. We saw the incredible Blue Mosque and the staggering Hagia Sophia Basilica. I tried and failed to come up with the right words to describe each. I’ve stalked Turkey through various Instagram accounts for near on a year and it was surreal to find myself standing beneath their gorgeous domed ceilings.

The Basilica Cistern really captured me. It was an unexpected surprise and somewhere I could have lingered for hours. I’ll go there again when I return to Istanbul. I need another hit. An underground water collection structure; the cistern I saw had domed ceilings, hundreds of columns – their feet lit with gold lights, and knee-deep water rich with wished-upon coins and fat fish. Early recycling at its best, two statues of Medusa had been reused to prop columns – they were extraordinary. The whole thing had a strange, alluring energy.

We drove to Ankara next, the capital of Turkey (the equivalent of Australia’s Canberra - the political centre rather than the tourist centre). The Turkish countryside is ever-changing and the vistas are extraordinary. We attended the Youth and Sports Day ceremony at Ataturk’s Mausoleum, and were treated to a spectacular display of national pride, then got our feet into the second biggest salt lake in the world.

After that, we indulged. Or should I say, we were bullied into letting our troubles float away.

A Turkish Bath is an experience you will never forget, and therefore highly recommended.

Yes, you’ve reached the naked part of my story.

The guys and girls were sent their separate ways. The girls were given small towels to cover ourselves. A clay mask locked our expressions in place and a sauna roasted us. All of us were wearing bathers – something which proved a waste of time as the Turkish women in the massage room either pulled them off or pulled them up. Like… up. 

You try relax after a violent wedgie.

They filled these pillow-like things with foam and covered us in the stuff. We lay on heated marble – which was frikkin’ awesome – and were massaged and entertained with song, music, and brusque foreign chatter. Me? I must’ve done something really wrong. Karma-come-collect wrong. My masseuse tried to drag my skin from my body with metal-like fingers. Because she was trying to break my muscles – and perhaps my spine – I’m forced to conclude I hurt her children somehow. I ended up begging her to be gentle. 

Despite some confronting elements, it was a great experience.

Cappadocia next. An alien landscape of volcanic formations made millions of years ago, fairy chimneys, and magic sunsets. We went to dinner at a local’s house – the police chief and his wife cooked for us. Early the next morning I had a dream come true: sun rise hot air ballooning over one of the most striking landscapes in the world.

It was… flawless.

Hundreds of other balloons joined us in the air. Points of bright colour in a pale sky. I’ve never seen anything like it, and maybe never will again. It’s a bucket list kind of thing, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity. We flew for about an hour. One of the guys proposed to his girlfriend, it was so sweet. We each took over a hundred photos, I guess, but after a while I just put everything away and stared around me.

Sightseeing through Cappadocia involved an open air museum with ancient Catholic frescos, cave churches, and ancient homes. Brilliant vantage points for photos. We drove around the area for a few hours, seeing Pigeon Valley and the like, then when some of the group went to a Turkish dinner and dancing evening, me and a few others caught a ride to Sunset Point and watched the end of a beautiful day. It was a popular place. We lounged on cushions and listened to local boys singing softly beside us. Bliss. I’ve been a lot of places, but that sunset makes the top five of my life.

I keep thinking, I saw the sun rise and set on one of the loveliest days of my life.

Today we drive to Konya, then a long driving day tomorrow to the coast-side village of Fethiye. You’d recognise one of its elements – Butterfly Valley is one of the most photographed valleys in the world, I think.

Until last night, I’d been operating (poorly, I think), on seven hours of sleep accrued over three nights. It didn’t matter how exhausted I was at the end of each night, I got into bed and stared at the ceiling. My zombie tendencies would have amused people if they hadn’t been so near to collapse themselves, but we had a ten-thirty departure this morning, so everyone’s bounced back.

The pace of organised tours is like nothing else.

So for now, I'll finish by saying I'm travelling with wonderful people, seeing wonderful things, and smiling all the time. Life's sweet.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Dizzy Dubai

I’ll begin this blog with a fun fact: in the last forty-eight hours I have drank more water than I would in a typical week. The United Arab Emirates is hot and dry, and sightseeing is thirsty work.

Backtracking slightly, the flight was fine. I had the good fortune of a window seat with an empty seat beside me and I slept a fair bit. I watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks until the acid-trip special effects did my head in, then fell in all of Sleeping Beauty’s plot holes before I found my way to The Avengers. The descent was interesting; the vast expanse of scrub-dotted sands, fences and roads like pencil lines on a page. Then came the estates. Tended squares of green; wide, flat roofs. Pillared mansions, arched exteriors and palm flanked drives. Finally, skyscrapers were glimpsed through a sandstorm haze.

I was put in a ladies’ taxi upon leaving the airport. A woman no bigger than Prue Everdeen wrestled my suitcase from me and loaded it into her pink-topped van, and even though she took me to the wrong hotel (Winchester vs Winchester Grand… I can see where things went wrong), it was a pleasant, incense-rich ride.

Later, I made Chandler Bing look smooth in the practice of clumsy tipping. I suck at tipping. I suck at the whole set-up. Just give me my bag, I’ve got it this far. And I reckon I can find the fridge on my own, thanks. So, so awkwardly done. I haven’t been able to look the guy in the eye since, although I swear he keeps grinning at me.

Speaking of: the local men stare. Unabashedly. They don’t smile, either. It’s disconcerting.

My first tourist excursion was an abysmal failure. Armed with a map and a questionable sense of confidence, I struck out for the nearest Big Bus stop, but I never found it. There were freeways. Back streets. Kilometres of shade-free footpaths. I saw a side of Bur Dubai that most tourists wouldn’t, and I have a sunburned face and cracked lips to show for it. When I finally found my way to a road that had cabs (by cutting through the lobby of a glamourous hotel), I realised I’d spent three hours glitz parallel.

Good to know my shocking sense of direction hasn’t changed.

I got a good look at the Sheikh Zayed Road on the way back, then collapsed into bed at 5:00pm. I may have had sunstroke. There were symptoms.

For those who say travel is like riding a bike, I say different. It’s like falling into a pair of rollerskates. My first day was a clumsy mess.

But I really hit my stride on the second day.

The Big Bus tour has been a brilliant way to see the United Arab Emirates. It has an audio commentary, a city route, and a beach route. A river tour was included, and I got to jump off whenever something interested me, knowing that another bus would be along every half hour. I saw the spectacular Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis the Palm. Ski Dubai. The Burj Al Arab. The Burj Khalifa – the tallest man-made structure on earth. Some of the thirty major shopping complexes, and dozens of mosques. Easy to do when there’s one every five hundred metres! Souks. The bustling ‘creek’. It was a brilliant, full-on day.

I did the night tour after a few short hours reprieve, and the night just improves this place. It was the best experience so far. The Arab Emirates… glitters. It’s a very green, very advanced place teeming with innovative design, world replicas, effective transport systems, and obvious wealth. There’s construction everywhere, and big plans to further impress. My tour guide told me about up and coming projects, including a district of life-sized replicas of the wonders of the world. Extending the creek towards Jumeriah Beach – effectively making part of the Emirates an island. More shopping centres – because there clearly aren’t enough! The leaders of this country have incredible foresight; they’ve invested heavily in infrastructure and public amenities, high-class destinations and tourism. When the oil runs out, Dubai will continue to flourish. And with millions of visitors expected during its 2020 World Fair extravaganza, it will be on the tip of tongues for a long time.

If you haven’t been here and you get the opportunity – give yourself a few days at least. Get a 48hr hop-on hop-off bus ticket. Sit on the top level on the back seat at the right – it’s the best vantage point by far (if you don’t mind your gums flapping in the wind).

Dubai has awed me. I feel like I could spend weeks here exploring each point of interest, but I’m out of time. Today I fly to Istanbul, and tonight I begin my Turkish adventure.

In the meantime, I've been writing heaps!

It’s been an excellent, albeit clumsy start, and somehow I’ve already been away from home nearly a week.

Will update this blog when time and WIFI permits. Would love your comments – have you been to Dubai? Were you similarly blown away? What did you buy? Where you also alarmed by the hamburger, pizza slice, chicken drumstick, fries and a coke value meals? 

Above: The Burj Al Arab. Design reminiscent of an open sail, and symbolic of the city moving forward.

Above: Atlantis The Palm, a reconstruction of Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and very impressive.

Above: Ski Dubai. The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.

Above: Hundreds gathered for prayer on the top level of a shopping centre.

Above: Be prepared to come back, especially on a Friday, which is roughly the equivalent of Aussie Sunday.

Above: Just one of the footwear wonders.

Above: Love a good pun!

Above: One of the world's largest shopping malls, The Dubai Mall.

Above: The tallest man-made structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa

Above: One of the night tour highlights.

Friday, 18 April 2014


I learnt a new word this evening, and these seven seemingly innocuous letters have moved mountains within me.

Fernweh is the German equivalent for wanderlust, and it translates to farsickness; an ache for distant places.

To me, this definition is perfect. As the months have slipped by and the countdown has diminished to mere weeks until I brandish my passport again, I've struggled to adequately capture how I'm feeling.

Excited, of course. Overwhelmed, a little scared. Exhilarated. I'm proud of myself for venturing out into the world again, for daring to subscribe to a new way of life, for committing to the road less travelled, and embracing adventure in whatever form. This is something I've longed for for a year now. The original concept is all but a memory - my itinerary and goals have changed so much. But the purpose is the same.

The world calls to me. A siren song that robs my feet of balance and turns my head from other plans - other futures.

My heart is restless, and only new roads, new faces and broken boundaries will satiate it.

I begin to tell people I've done this before, then stop myself. I have travelled alone, I have been overseas. I have walked upon ancient cobblestones, and gazed upon vistas so stunning that I will never remember them with the clarity they deserve. But I have not done this before.

What I am doing is new. It will be unlike anything I've done in the past, and unlike anything I will do to come. It can't be, because I am never the same.

I am a different person from the girl fresh out of high school who shouldered her backpack and swallowed her fear. She went to Europe. She starved. She was soaked through for three whole days. She para-sailed over the Austrian Alps. She missed home so badly that I still carry the scar tissue on my heart.

I'm different again from the woman who went to South East Asia. She was stronger than the Europe girl. She had a gun pointed at her face and survived a civil uprising with her sense of humour intact. She walked through temples worn down by acid rain, and floated down the Mekong River above waiting creatures and alongside fishing monks. She knew she could do it because she'd "done it" before.

And so, whilst I'm different - older, wiser, infinitely better at self depricating humour - those parts of me tell me I can do this.

So come at me, world, I'm ready for you. In fact, I ache for you. I've been farsick for too long, and you're just the cure I'm looking for.

First stop the United Arab Emirates. Turkey next, then Greece. When I return to England after all that, it's with one month of complete freedom. So... Ireland. Perhaps Scandinavia. Maybe France again, because Paris is always a good idea.

I'll be carrying my laptop and notebook and writing about it all. And in the back of my mind always, will be this wonderful, perfect new word.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo - it ain't no holiday

I'm prepping my gear, setting my sights on the distance peak, and arming myself with a dozen more camp-related puns in readiness for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

I'm a big fan of this program. The 50K, 47,455K or 13,567K that I churn out in thirty days isn't always top-quality stuff, but they're words. Words I can fix. A blank page is much harder to edit (note: I've also packed a back-breaking amount of understatements and sarcasm - you know, the basic necessities).

Having won for the first time in three years last November (aka reached 50,000), I'm keen to join my fellow writers again, but this time I'm setting my sights a little lower. Kosciusko, rather than Everest.

30,000 words in 30 days. 1,000 words a day.

A necessary adjustment owing to the many distracting things going on in my life right now. In May I fly overseas for an extended working holiday, and planning is still underway. I'll be working, moving house, seeing people before I go, reading friends' new releases... and amongst it all I'll be writing Today Was a Fairytale.

I know you're channeling Taylor Swift right now, but without giving away all of the story's plot points, it's hard to explain how perfect that title is for Ellen and Oliver.

If you'll be NaNo-ing in April, lets talk cabins. I'm a heavy sleeper - tap away on your keyboard until all hours, I won't complain. I can be relied upon for pep talks and obscure references of encouragement, and I love to bake. The latter will become more important as the month wears on.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Some titles sell themselves

How, with a title like Lingerie for Felons, can a reader resist this book?

I'm delighted to be hosting a release day blog post for a fellow Escape artist, the lovely Ros Baxter. Love the title, love the cover - it's gone straight to my TBR pile. Congratulations on the release, Ros.

Today is release day for Lingerie for Felons, the new romantic comedy from Ros Baxter.

‘If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: You’re always wearing your worst underwear when you land in trouble.’ 

Lingerie for Felons: Laugh. Cry.  Look at the world a little differently.

All with one click here.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Dear Stranger, if you've found me, I'm yours...

"If you've found me, I'm yours."
Happy Valentine's Day. I hope that today, whether you celebrate it or not , affords you a measure of kindness.

In the last week I have learned two things. One, that the skin between my knuckle and fingertip - once calloused by its long friendship with the humble pen - has become the equivalent of a sensitive sook. And two, that people are willing to spread a little love if only given the opportunity.

I recently released a short story with Escape Publishing called Dear Stranger, a sweet, contemporary read about a woman who writes and leaves love letters around her city for strangers to find. It's a case of art imitating life, because I did this on Valentine's Day last year. There was no guarantee that the small messages of hope would reach the people who most needed them, but there was the chance, and for me that was enough.

A week ago I decided to do it again, this time using Reese's letter in Dear Stranger. It's uplifting, it's kind and it's hopeful - and it seems that as soon as I had the idea, people volunteered their help.

Ready for my 'street team'.
This year, instead of pounding the pavements alone, I have a 'street team'. Almost a dozen generous souls from all over Australia, each armed with a handful of love letters for strangers. These letters turned up on South Australian counters, on ATMs in the Blue Mountains, and trains and cafe tables in Melbourne. They turned up wherever my friends were inspired to leave them, and it is my hope that the people who found them were somehow stirred, or kind enough to leave them to be found again.

I was thrilled to be contacted by two people who did find a letter, and the messages were enormously positive. The wonderful people who delivered these letters were enthusiastic, and there were many talks of 'next time'.

Maybe you're reading this blog because you found a letter. Maybe you're reading this and finding yourself inspired to pen a letter of your own. Either way, I just wanted to mark this moment, to wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day, and thank the wonderful people who put their hand up to spread a little love in a world. I also want to take the opportunity to mention More Love Letters, a global organisation which uses social media to write and distribute heartfelt gestures of love and compassion to those in need, and the original inspiration for my letters a year ago.

It is my hope for you, reader, that something about today brought a smile to your face, be it anything from a delivery of roses to a small act of kindness. Because commercial considerations aside, Valentine's Day is - at its core - a chance to celebrate each other.

So, dear stranger, I celebrated you.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

2014 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop

Happy Australia Day long weekend to those who share this lucky country with me! I'm participating in the Book'd Out Blog Hop, and giving away one print copy of my latest release, Ask Me To Stay. Entrants must be an Australian resident, or be able to provide an Australian postal address. Make sure you visit the Book'd Out blog to see who else is on the blog hop, and I hope you're enjoying yourself - however you're celebrating!

A delightful collection from Elise K. Ackers, author of Small Town Storm and The Man Plan, available for the first time in print.

In Australian country towns, everyone knows everybody else's business. Nothing is private, and escaping the past is difficult if not impossible. But how much of the truth does anyone ever really know, even about those closest to them?
When family tragedy brings Ethan Foster home, he doesn't expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything – and Ethan's was ruined long ago. His family and friends don't want him around, and nor does Sam O'Hara, the girl he left behind.

In this tender and heartwarming romantic trilogy, a funeral, a wedding, and a homecoming spark a series of events that prove that love can find a way, if only given a chance. 

Includes the stories Ask Me to Stay, Ask Me for More and Ask Me for Tomorrow.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 24 January 2014

Tackling the TBR pile

I've confessed this to a few writers and a few have agreed with me, so it turns out I'm not alone in struggling to read and write at the same time. By that, I mean that it's difficult for me to be reading a great book whilst I'm drafting a story of my own - the author's voice attempts to page hop, details blur, and my self-confidence takes an absolute bashing.

I tried not reading contemporary when I was writing it, not reading YA when I was writing it, etc, but it didn't much help. This put me between the proverbial rock and hard place, because I was being forced to choose between two passions.

One of my new year resolutions was to read minimum of a book a month, which to bibliophiles would be a laughably low goal. But I write every day. I write when I should be doing something else. I write, because I can't stop myself. So you see my predicament: how to read a book a month when I'm always writing?

The short answer: I've started tricking myself.

I listen to audio books. I drive enough that I get through a book every fortnight or so. I have a book on my bedside table (although this is my least effective trick, as my laptop's beside it). I take my e-reader everywhere, and read paragraphs whenever there isn't enough time to write. This adds up over time. I'm lucky that interruptions don't phase me - I can write and read with them, pause my brain and resume it fairly easily. And so I think I'll reach these monthly goals.

I've surpassed my minimum this month, but as I'm retreating to the editing cave this long weekend, I don't see the harm in declaring January over in this post. I won't be reading anything again for a week at least, unfortunately.

What are you reading, and do you trick yourself into creating time for good books?

Here are the fabulous titles I've read this month: