Thank you, and Goodbye

Photo: Goodbye by woodleywonderworks
Photo: Goodbye by woodleywonderworks (CC by 2.0)


You may have noticed that I haven’t posted as regularly as I normally do recently. I had some hard thinking to do. And some prioritising of my life, as one should do every now and then.

What do I really want to do with my life?
What is actually important?

You see, it’s been a pretty tough two-and-a-half years. I’ve worked full-time, studied part-time, written and published 4 books and attempted to be involved in my family. I love writing, I really do. But I live in an area where writing conferences, retreats, workshops, author talks and networking opportunities are far and few between. I go to as many as I can, but the last one in my area was five months ago. (Well, the one I could attend at any rate. I didn’t have a car for the one two weeks ago.)

I see a lot of events going on in other parts of the state and the country. However, to attend even the closest ones is a four-hour drive minimum. And the really good ones I want to go to are a two-hour plane flight. Plus accommodations, food, and the flight home again. It’s too far out of my reach. Even after  I finish my diploma next year, and have more time for writing, it will still be out of my reach. What kind of writer would I be if I’m isolated from those opportunities? Yes, I have the internet, but the internet doesn’t provide interaction with real people. (You know what I mean.)

I have two choices. Move more than 2,000klms from where I am currently living…or quit writing.

And so, after much debate, doubt, and anguish it really is goodbye.

It’s goodbye because I have had to make a very, very hard decision.  One that I was in tears over. One in which I have to take a breath, close my eyes and leap. Because if I don’t at least try, I will regret it for the rest of my life. One in which I am very, very glad to have a loving supporting husband, and amazing, wonderful friends and family – all of whom believe in me. You see, it’s not an easy choice to resign your full-time job, when you have no job to go to, and move your family and everything you own more than 2,000klms away from home just to follow a dream

A dream which may very well come to nothing.

Am I scared? Absolutely.
Am I telling myself I’m stupid to give up a full-time job in this economy? You bet ya.
Am I really doing this? Apparently.

Goodbye to Far North Queensland. Goodbye to friends. Goodbye to my family. Goodbye to the life I’ve known for years.

I will still need to write around a job (when I get one), study (for a little while longer) and family. But I will be able to take advantage of so many more opportunities and the biggest leap of all. Really taking the chance to focus more on writing, and getting books out there.

Over the next few weeks, our house will be packed into boxes and we will make the long drive down to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to start our new lives. I don’t know how often I will be able to update this blog during that time. But when we get settled and figure out what internet we have available, I’ll make sure to post an update.

So here goes. Deep breath. Wish me luck, and I’ll see you on the flip side.



What can change the world.

Photo: typewriter by Nicoleleec
Photo: typewriter by Nicoleleec (CC by 2.0)

Only history will tell what will change the world

I read this recent blog post from “The Practical Historian” – Lessons from a typewriter. 

Sarah speaks of the history of the typewriter and I think it’s amazing how someone can spend a lifetime not happy with their invention (Christopher Latham Sholes), and yet have that invention change and pretty much rule the world we live in more than 150 years later. Without the typewriter, I doubt we’d have computers. Without computers – it would be a very different world.

At school, I used a typewriter, I think they purchased them in the 60’s and were still in use. They used sewn calico covers to cover our hands and the body of the typewriters while we typed from ‘The Dictation Textbook’. At least I learned to touch type – which amazingly, in this computer age, seems to still impress people to this day.
My first stories, when not in pen or pencil, were written with a similar style typewriter. I can still hear the thwank-click of the keys hitting the black and red ribbon, the slightly  echoed high pitched ping that let you know you had 10 characters left until the end of the line, and the growling slide and solid thunk of the carriage return.
There was something satisfyingly solid and tactile about using a typewriter which is sadly missing from the computer keyboard – and don’t get me started on those touch screen tablets. I cannot type on those very well at all. I don’t know how people touch type on those without the feel of the keys. But on that note, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone touch type on one of those things. They all have to look at the screen.

While I love the feel and sound of a typewriter, I am very glad for the progression onto the computer. One of my weakness’ at school and it continues to be a weakness, is my spelling. I’m so used to seeing those pretty red underlines accompanying my words, which goes to show me that despite efforts to have better spelling, it still gets the best of me. With typewriters, there were no pretty red lines, and to correct a spelling mistake, you cranked the handle on the roller, used liquid whiteout, waited for it to dry (which gave you the time to look up a dictionary), brought the roller back down, used the carriage slide to bring the carriage back to what was hopefully the correct spot, and retyped. The worse part of that was when it either didn’t line up, or the incorrect word had fewer letters than the corrected word.

So from someone in the computer age, who doesn’t have to write everything out laboriously by hand, here’s to you Mr Christopher Latham Sholes and the invention you were never happy with, which changed the world.



Borrow Me

When I was little, I thought Libraries were a magic place. A place where books would simply appear on the shelves to be borrowed and devoured. Read and re-read as many times as possible in the four weeks before they needed to go back. I had no thought as to where the books came from, it was simply the magic of the place. Libraries were the place all the best books lived.

I still believe that – in a way, but not the same kind of naive, innocent way I once did. I still love libraries, even in this world of e-books and e-readers, the Library is a special place. And Mount Isa Library in Queensland, Australia just got a little more special.

If the Library is the special place where all the best books live, then I’m glad for the new residents.

Photo: Mount Isa Library, Local Author June 2016
Photo: Mount Isa Library, Local Author June 2016

I can’t tell you what it feels like to have my books in the Library. I’m still reeling. It’s astronomical. Not only am I published, my books are in the very same Library I visited as a child and grew up attending. My books have now appeared to be borrowed and devoured. Read and re-read. I have no words. Just a huge thank you for all the people who helped it come to be. It is literally a dream come true for me.

In the Beginning

It doesn’t matter what you do…you have to start somewhere. We all have a ‘first’ at something. Some of them are amazingly successful. Some of them are so horrendously awful you NEVER want the results to ever see the light of day again. (Yes, first attempt at baking I’m talking to you. I’m sure monumental masons would be the only ones to love that particular cake attempt.)

Some of my firsts have made it onto my blog and I want to share 5 of them. Some of them are quite mediocre, but I want to show that firsts are just that. The first attempt.

The first attempt will never be perfect. But unless the first attempts are also the last attempts, they will get better.

  1. My first attempt at poetry. I must say poetry is not my thing. Those who do know a bit more about poetry will instantly know where I gained my inspiration.
  2. My first attempt at writing from a male point of view. This one was hard. I don’t care what the popular theory is, males are different to females and writing from a male point of view is totally different from writing a female point of view. Writing this was the starting point in being able to write male points of view for ‘Edward (Book #2 Nephilim Code’ and ‘Zeph (Book 3 Nephilim Code)’.
  3. My first blog post. This was a while ago now. I remember trying to figure out what to write. How to write it. And then, when it was done, working up the courage to press post.
  4. My first cover reveal.  This was exciting times. My first cover reveal. The cover of my first book, back when I was literally weeks away from my first ever book being published. It is still that exciting.
  5. My first book trailer. I didn’t make this. Ducan from Business Communication Managment did. He did a fantastic job. (But I could be bias.)


So there are a few of my ‘firsts’.
What are some of yours?

Blast from the Past

Just the other day, a friend I hadn’t seen or heard from since the end of high school, found me on FB and friended me.

It was the weirdest experience. High school was forever ago, and I hadn’t thought about this friend for years. The rush of memories was profound. Things I’d forgotten. And things that had changed. He talked about other friends I hadn’t thought of for years and had lost track of. And also those people who weren’t friends, and of whom I was glad to have lost track.

I remember leaving high school and having plans. This was what I was going to do with my life. I was going to Uni and I was going to be an English and Drama teacher. It wasn’t a glitzy or glamorous, but this was my plan. Just connecting with my old friend had me looking back at this plan, and tracking how it never came to be. But how different things came to be instead.

Once we got talking, I released that his life hadn’t gone to plan either. At least not the plan he had at the end of high school. Both our lives had gone completely in different directions. Looking back like that was the weirdest experience.

It made me think of the Tammy Cochran song – Life Happens.

I don’t think I know anyone whose life turned out how they planned it. And that, for me, was a strange epiphany.

“I’ve learned that life isn’t really about failure and success. It’s about being present, in the moment when big things happen, when everything changes, including yourself. So I would tell us, no matter how bright we think our futures are, it doesn’t matter. Whether we go off to some fancy university or stay home and work. That doesn’t define us. Our purpose on this earth is not a single event, an accomplishment we can check off a list. There is no test. No passing or failing. There’s only us, each moment shaping who we are, into what we will become. So I say forget about the future. Pay attention to now. This moment right now. Let go of expectations. Just be. Then you are free to become something great.”

– Cynthia Hand (Hallowed)

Confessions of a Cereal Killer 4

Photo: Lettuce by Ruth Hartnup (CC BY 2.0)
Photo: Lettuce by Ruth Hartnup (CC BY 2.0)

The other day we started our own hydroponics system. Just a small one.
1 metre x 50 cms (about 3 feet x 1 foot – ish, maybe. I’m terrible at metric to imperial conversions.)

At any rate, it’s pretty small as hydroponic systems go.
A few months ago we saw a documentary on aquaponics and kept searching for info on it. It’s fascinating. Using fish water and stones to grow plants.

No dirt.

If you’ve read my confessions of a cereal killer  (one, two and three), you’ll know my track record with plants isn’t very good. My epiphany was, they only liked me when there was no dirt involved.

Hello, aquaponics.

We wanted to try one. We have a miniature courtyard and that’s about all the space we have. So, small was our only option. Too small, unfortunately, for aquaponics. So we thought we’d give hydroponics a try. Kinda like aquaponics, only without the fish. You use organic liquid fertiliser instead.

Our ‘bed’ has 3 types of lettuces in it, 6 seedlings of each.

We planted them in pearlite and set their little tootsies in the water. And they did well.
For the first few weeks.

You see, in hydroponics the pH levels of the water is important. It needs checking weekly and adjusting when required. Plants work best in pH levels of 6-6.5. Our tap water is higher than 7.6, so we have to keep adjusting.

Planting the seedlings was the easy part. Getting the pH levels right – not so easy. We’ve been at it for a week now and we’re still not in the correct range for the tiny plants. I’m kinda worried. With my track record and plants, this may just be the last for our seedlings. Hubby tells me we’ll get the pH levels right soon and I hope he’s right.

The idea of growing our own food is amazing. Going out to the courtyard and picking greens for dinner would be wonderful. Literally minutes from field to plate. Me…growing food. All plausible.  If my black thumb doesn’t rear its ugly head, that is.

Here’s to success and living plants.
Wish me luck.

Leave a Review

If you’ve ever read a book and as you enter the real world, thought…

“Wow! That was a great book.

…or the equivalent, don’t just leave it there.

If you’ve enjoyed the story, there is one thing you can do to help the author.

Review the book.

Books are not read because they are for sale, or an advertisement was seen. Books are sold through word of mouth. If you liked a book, you’ll tell your mother, your cousin, your sister, your aunt, brother, next door neighbour, and the guy serving you at the grocery story. Reviews are just the same.  If a book looks interesting, people will go and read the review to see what other people thought. Reviews are word of mouth…only written down.

And herein lies the crux.

Apparently, writing a review is scary and hard. I’ve written a few, but I am by no means an expert. Despite that, here are a few tips that will hopefully make it less scary and a little easier.

Photo: light and books by Katie Hiscock. CC BY 2.0
Photo: light and books by Katie Hiscock. CC BY 2.0

1. Keep it simple

I liked the book because…

The KISS principle applies. While a review is ‘a critical analysis’ (according to the dictionary), you’re not attempting a thesis for a Doctorate. What would you say to other people about the book? You wouldn’t go into an analytical analysis of thematic process and character motivations. (Well, perhaps you would, but for a review it’s not necessary.)

2. Keep it short

Wow. This book was amazing!

Not everyone has the time to read a 11 page essey. A few sentences or a paragraph is fine. A few paragraphs even. Leave the novel writing for the author, though.

2. Don’t review if you haven’t read it

I only read up to page 45…

That sounds like a ‘no-brainer’ but I was surprised when someone told me they wrote a review for a book that they heard other people talk about. I still can’t wrap my head around it. It doesn’t make sense to me. It isn’t possible to gain a balanced perspective on a book you haven’t read or have only read halfway through.

3. Review the book you read

I would have liked it better if it had vampires…

Review the book you read, not the book you wished it was. If you normally read romance and this book is a crime mystery don’t review it as a ‘2 star’ because the relationship ended with the heroine being murdered and there was no ‘happily-ever-after’.

4. Be constructive, not nasty

This author had better not think of giving up her day job…

If you didn’t like something it’s perfectly okay to say it in the review, but make sure you’re not being mean about it. Books are subjective. There will always be things that not everyone will like. Say why you didn’t like it. Perhaps the characters could have been better developed, or you would have liked more description of the location…but don’t attack the author. There is no need to say that you thought the book was a sanctimonious pile of camel dung. That helps no one.

5. Do say what you liked

I  give it 5 stars.

Great, you’ve given a book a ‘5 star’ rating. Yay!
Why? Did you like the characters? Or one in particular? Did you like the twist? Did you like the location? Did the book make you cry? Or laugh? Was it a book you couldn’t put down? Was there a scene you particularly loved? Say it in the review.

6. Don’t give spoilers

They all died…he took poison and she stabbed herself. 

This is the one I appreciate the most. The people who are reading your review are interested in the book, but if you give things away in your review, they might as well not bother with reading the story. You can say ‘I was surprised at who the murder turned out to be’, you don’t have to say ‘I was surprised that the murderer was Harry, the best friend’s little brother’.


Those are my pointers for writing a review. Do you have any others? I’d be interested in reading them in the comments below.