Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Finishing a Book is Like Selling a House. It's All in the Detail.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group's Monthly Post Day again, Hooray.

For a time I've been mulling over my house situation. I've lived in my beautiful, old timber house with tongue and groove walls for 8 and a half years. The moment I first walked into it as a prospective buyer I knew it would be mine, and I was the first to view it. But the time has come for us to part ways. I'm here on my own now, in a large house on an even larger block of land, 1/4 acre or 1400 square metres of mostly tropical garden which has become too much for me to care for.

Health issues, and gardening, care and upkeep of my paradise mean my paradise is becoming neglected. The decision has been made to hand it over to others for their enjoyment. 

About a month ago I was browsing the local real estate sites, just out of curiosity only, and what do I see but the perfect little 2 bedroom beach side cottage in my price range. I wasn't really looking, but as things happen, so did this and so I deemed it 'meant to be'. I now have a contract to purchase it.

And what, you may ask, has this to do with finishing a book? 

Having decided to go ahead with selling my house and downsizing, I was faced with the need to do a lot of work on my house to bring it up to scratch before selling. I realised the process would be much like what happens after the first draft of a book is finished. I had the body of the work but fine tuning was now required before I could sell a polished product. 

Suddenly I had many glaring faults I needed to fix and this is how it looked.

BOOK                                                                HOUSE
Review draft(s)                                                    Review what to do
Rewrite                                                                Begin jobs eg. patch, paint, clean, clear yard
Edit                                                                      De-clutter
Review and (get) edit until happy                          Finish jobs
Cover                                                                  Flowers in vase, candles
Finished                                                               Finished
Promote                                                               Present  
Sell                                                                      Sell

Writing a first draft can be likened to having lived in a house for any number of years. The first draft is rough and full of superfluous words, and errors, the emphasis being on superfluous. Over the years we gather stuff and display it in our homes. We're comfortable in our own environments and our stuff lies here and there, with often-used items strewn carelessly about without much thought to their placement. But to prime a house and a book for sale, if you want to make the most of what you have, it's all in the detail. A little effort goes a long way.

On the house front the effort has been put in and advertising is about to begin. On the book front, my latest effort, a memoir, is at the "Reviewing until happy" stage. It was so close "Finished" before I spotted the cottage, but now almost seems a distant memory. I was hoping to have it finished this month, but this is the first time in weeks that I've written anything. So, book on the back burner for the time being, again. 

And this is how writing is for many of us. There is life to live, things to take care of and no matter how burning our desire to write and how frustrated we may be sometimes when we can't, we write when we can. I for one become frustrated with slowness of progress, but as I live on my own I have to attend to everything myself. I have to make big decisions myself, and follow through when doubts and fears take hold. 

It's the same with writing. The doubts and fears will always take hold at some point, but I see this as part of what makes us who we are. If you can get through the hesitations and doubts about buying a house, a car, getting married etc, then you can get through to the "Sell" part of your writing journey.

Looking at it this way when I decided to sell my house made me realise that writing really is no easier or harder than many other actions in life. It's another action you take, and then you get on with it.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Writing is a Journey of Self-Discovery.


A Memoir

Coming Soon


As I near publication next month of "Staying Strong" my memoir of breakdown, I know how relevant the self-discovery journey is to writers. Certainly I've had some big self-discoveries during the writing of this book. Understandable you may say, but isn't all writing about putting a little of your own heart and soul into your story, no matter what that story may be? And in so doing don't we discover truths or other aspects of ourselves previously not conscious?

I believe this is true for all artists, and thinkers . As we pour forth and pick over ourselves and our worlds, we 'allow' for more information to follow through, as the door widens ever more.

As writers and artists we must continue the journey of self-discovery our entire lives or risk becoming stale and boring. We need to hone our writing skills, our craft itself, the nuts and bolts of what we do, how to put together a great book or journal article, and also market, promote and sell etc if we're self-published, like me. But wait, more importantly, we need to uncover and understand more of ourselves.

I get fired up by such possibilities and potential discoveries. I'm a knowledge seeker and lover and can be inspired at any given moment to investigate an unknown thing, to uncover the magic and power of understanding.

I love it when this happens, when answers to questions come, when things unclear attain clarity. Sometimes I can work on a project but sense that in some way for me it is incomplete. It can be so close to completion yet that feeling remains, then as if by magic or design, I come across a piece of information, knowledge, a discovery, that explains everything, and changes me. It's the "aha" moment when the fog lifts and thoughts clear.

Writing a memoir is a mega journey of self-discovery. I knew it would be to some extent, and it has surprised me. It has taken a long time to discover what I wanted to know, 16 years in fact, and maybe I could have found my answers earlier, maybe not. Maybe it was all in the timing. In the end, what I discovered about myself has been life changing; beautiful, special and amazing. Imagine that.

Back in February I wrote a post entitled "Staying Strong" The Changing Names of a Memoir Part of that post described my journey through the book title changes I went through until I came to "Staying Strong" after reading this quote on Facebook. I was nearing the end of the first draft when I saw the quote and it was then that I had the first "aha" moment associated with the book. The title "Staying Strong" perfectly described how I felt before, during and after my experience but also portrayed a person full of inner strength.

Acceptance of myself and of what had happened to me and why had come to me via a very powerful quote. I felt more certain that what I was writing about would be okay. Memoirs after all are very self-exposing and therefore carry inherent risks. Was I really prepared to do this? I was, because I wasn't doing it just for me.

Then in April I had another insight on my journey of self-discovery which brought everything together for "Staying Strong" and for me. Whilst Pinteresting one day -I love Pinterest remember- and during conversations with my daughters, I came across personality information from Myers-Briggs Personality Type that seemed to scream "me". I already knew some of my personality type, don't we all, but the complete picture was very illuminating indeed and provided the second "aha" and explained so much about why I had had a breakdown as well.

Now I could finish my book feeling satisfied I'd put as much as I could into it. I'd covered all my bases, dotted my i's and crossed my t's for the story and as a bonus, for me.

This is why I love writing. It gives me a sense of wholeness and wellness, completion. It's not only from a memoir that I get this, it's from any writing that I do which I've carefully considered and constructed, which has sprung from my heart and been delivered thoughtfully to the page.

This creation is a journey, an inviting journey of self-discovery, one not to be taken for granted, for it is truly amazing and soul inspiring.

STAYING STRONG A Memoir.  Coming soon to Amazon, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo, iTunes, Scribd, and more, many more.......

Have an inspiring week everyone,


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Writers: Get Your Fix, and Feast on Pinterest. 6 Pins to get You through the Week.

27 Delightful Obsolete Words Its High Time We Revived 27 Delightful Obsolete Words It's High Time We Revived.
Buzzfeed and on my Pinterest Board 'Write All About It'. See Sidebar.

I love Pinterest! How many times have you heard that? It's true. I love it because I'm a visual person and so is Pinterest. It's all about images, and initially, they speak to me louder than the words, unless of course the words are the image.

I've had a busy fortnight with little time for writing as other events have taken priority. My laptop has sat idle in this time, but my tablet, which I use for email and social media, has not. 

Every morning I commit writers' mortal sin: I read emails and scan my social media pages over breakfast before I do anything else in my day. I know I'm not supposed to if I want to be a serious writer, but I'm not the sort of person you can tie down to a routine, except for breakfast and social media that is. I like to do things differently, that's all, but therein lies another post I've been thinking about.

This week is about being lazy and taking the easy route, me that is, hence a Pinterest post with lots of images that can speak for themselves with fewer words from me. Incidentally, this serves to illustrate how valuable Pinterest can be as a writing/information/filing/promotion/marketing/business tool. But you probably know this already. If you don't then this is how it works. Sign up at It's free. Follow the instructions and create Boards on which you pin images you like. 

On my 'Write All About It' Board I Pinned several images this week that I wanted to save for future referral. Crapulous above was one of them. I only read it this morning; it was the image that caught me. I didn't want to read it at the time, so I saved it. It's easy to find as I scroll through, and even though it may not be the most obviously useful Pin, it made me laugh but then had me thinking about word choices and their power. So, all power to the image, and therefore Pinterest for their inspiration in setting up the website.

As well as the Crapulous Pin, there was 'How to Use Pinterest As an Author'.
How to Use Pinterest as an Author with Cynthia Sanchez | Author-shift

K.M Weiland's 'Do You Know the Answer to Your Story's Most Important Question?' in which she talks about the "dramatic question" and how "it defines your story".

 Do You Know the Answer to Your Story's Most Important Question? - Helping Writers Become Authors

How about 

100 Ways to Say "Good" These are wonderfullll
and so on and so on. There are many list like this one. Authors'/writers' aids in image form, just how I like them, nice and colourful, rather than boring black and white print. I find these images easier to use, therefore I use Pinterest more as a writing tool than any other medium.

5-5-14 b
8 Tips for Writers Using Pinterest by Frances Caballo

And last but not least...

I try to keep an open mind about everything except grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Find all these Pins and more on my sidebar, and by searching Pinterest.

Have a great week everyone, 


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Off With a Ducati Roar on Holiday whilst Celebrating, Reminiscing and Researching.

I'm back.

I've been away holidaying, celebrating, reminiscing and researching, hence no post last week. I had no internet access yahoo, sorry for the pun, and mobile (cell) phone coverage was reduced to isolated pockets. It was wonderful.

I took my gadgets with me expecting to use them, indeed need them, but what I found was the glorious opposite. After 24 hours without I was relieved to be living independently of them. How little it takes.

Personally, I could easily live this way, far from the hustle and bustle  and demands of modern day life, if someone else took care of the basics for me. I very much enjoyed living in the technology-free lane if only for 4 days. I glimpsed again how pressured and goal orientated life has become. Give me the 'good old days' like childhood, when now, as a mature adult those days were full of magic, wonder and awe, when everything was slow. Ahhh, nostalgia.

But wait, maybe it's BECAUSE I'm a mature adult that everything seems fast now. Oh dear and sigh, as realisation comes and I shake my head!

And speaking of fast, there are some fast things in life not to be missed. Whilst away, I had the great fortune to ride pillion on a magnificent red Ducati ST4s. For 3 hours last Sunday I sat thrilled and sometimes terrified as 3 of us snaked our way on 2 bikes around some narrow country roads and open highways. What an awesome day and a very special treat, one I wasn't going to miss for anything, except bad weather, of course. We did go very fast.

This week has also seen my eldest daughter move back 'across the ditch' to Dunedin in New Zealand, Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud, land of our birth. We came here to Oz 24 years ago, but home always calls. Those 24 years have passed faster than my childhood.

When it comes to reminiscing, part of my holiday was to do just that, as I wrote in my previous post. My friend Liz and I had travelled Europe in a kombi van during 1975 and 1976 and I needed her memories for my next series of books. Out came the old photo albums and as always, she remembered people, places and events that I didn't. Her information will be invaluable in recreating our story and adventure.

Last but not least amongst all of this I turned 60, a 'mature' adult. A joke really because I believe in fairies. And fast bikes, mostly without me on them but occasionally I'll go along for the ride because that's where you can find something extra, in life, and in yourself.

See you next week, and have a good one,


Saturday, 21 June 2014

How's Your Global Indie Publishing this Year?

Christian Fischer: Wikimedia Commons

I thought I might ask this question because we're now half way through 2014 and each year self-publishing becomes more intense. It seems that more is expected of indie authors with regards to book and self promotion and marketing. Is this good or bad? In my view it depends on whether you put pressure on yourself to keep up with developments, and whether it's easy for you or not.

Personally, I'd love to have my books in every new estore that opens, and there are more by the day. Markets have been opening in Asia, Russia, Africa and Europe where there are many English speaking readers who, through estores, have access to our books like never before.

But here's the rub. It's up to us to place our books in these stores. As if we didn't have enough to do! Sure, we're making ourselves known using social media etc., but if we need to do more and more distribution, promotion and marketing, we're left with less time for writing. How does this work? Ultimately, the pendulum will move from Write 80% Promote 20%, to less than Write 80%. Or, do we employ assistants for covers, editing, promotion and marketing? Oops, that's already happening. Well then, let's all set up our own publishing houses? And here we are back at square one. This is probably how the very first books were written and published methinks.

Please forgive me, I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering where indie publishing might be going. In the recent good ole' days all we had to do was write a book ( a good one of course), upload it to Amazon and leave it to the powers that be to do the rest. As you may have guessed, I don't like promotion and marketing. Let's face it, it's not the most romantic aspect of writing. I'd rather write and upload, sigh.

Then, there was only Amazon, now there's more, much more, so I mustn't grumble. As well as Amazon, I also have my books listed through Draft2Digital where they appear on Kobo, iTunes, B&N's Nook and now this week on Scribd, with more to come. Draft2Digital is more user friendly than Smashwords, and although I haven't used Smashwords yet, I do have an account and will upload books there soon because they have a wider range of stores.

There are a multitude of other estores to upload your books to. I discovered just how global you can be when I subscribed to E Book Bargains UK Blog. Some stores are accessible through Smashwords, some you have to access yourself. That's where my distribution stops.

Because I can't spend a lot of time writing, I spend less time on promotion, so I have to weigh my odds and stick to what I CAN do. I can best use MY time writing and uploading to Amazon, Draft2Digital, and Smashwords, and tell you all about it via this blog, Twitter and Google+.

Everyone has a way which works for them. Thank goodness for the digital age and the ability to self publish. How many of us would never have realised our dream of writing if we'd been born before this time?

I for one wouldn't be on the brink of publishing my 9th book, "Staying Strong". That's right, everything is complete except for my beta reader to finish, and editing. I even have a cover sorted. I'm excited!

My crystal book is "coming along", and I have started preparing for a new series. In September 1975  my girlfriend and I set off in a kombi van from Arnhem in Holland, and spent a year traveling Europe. We were in our early 20's and had "the time of our lives". It was a great adventure. We traveled through Germany, Luxembourg, France, Andorra, Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

My travel buddy and I remain close friends 40 years later, and I shall be seeing her next weekend, partly to celebrate my upcoming 60th birthday Yay!, and partly to reminisce over and garner stories for this series. I've already gone over my old scrap book and photo album, and have begun to plan.

With that it's time to sign off. Wishing you all a great weekend,


Thursday, 12 June 2014


Back garden view from my veranda.

NB: From next week, my posts will appear over the weekend.

About a year ago I wrote a note in Evernote and forgot all about it. As I didn't have anything special lined up for today's post I thought to resurrect that note.

What I wrote then was about finding peace in a world where being different is hard to accept, for me and for others. Me, I'm a serious lone wolf. I prefer my own company in a quiet, secluded environment, away from the demands of the world, to the extreme. I dislike going out, and prefer the company of my 2 fur babies Winnie and Hunny, who you've met, to that of visitors and other people. Mostly all I need is my peaceful, beautiful garden to gaze upon and stroll through. I write, often from my veranda, or from my office/guest bedroom which overlooks the garden. I also read, research and crochet from the veranda, or garden and play with the dogs when I can. I go out only when I must. Now I'm not being rude. It's just how I am. But some people don't understand that about me, and I'm okay with that, now. It wasn't always that way.

Many people would consider my lifestyle unhealthy, weird, sad or worse. Few would think I live an idyllic life in subtropical eastern Australia, by the beach.

My personal experience is that my way of 'being' sits outside the majority way, and other people seem to have a need to rope me in like a stray from the herd. You have to belong or you're an outsider. Being an outsider can be uncomfortable and create issues for all parties, but for some it's our path.

If you're an outsider, different in some way but not necessarily a lone wolf, you've no doubt felt pressure from the masses to fit in at some stage in your life. My mum, bless her, always pressured me when I was a teenager. She tried to get me involved in activities, to 'join in' and be gregarious. I tried for years, believing I 'should', because everyone else was. I hated and resented it, only wanting to be with a good friend or 2. I wasn't okay then.

Teenage years were testing enough and even as a young adult I somehow felt the differentness was a fault, my fault, and I should change it. I set about attempting to change, living out and believing in the life of others yet always searching for me. I looked outside of myself for peace and happiness, but because I couldn't find it, I kept finding it for my nearest and dearest, thinking I'd find mine too.

I knew I wanted and needed space, but how do you achieve that when you have a family? And I wasn't even clear what space meant to me. I'd been brought up to be the same as everyone else but knew I wasn't. On the outside I looked similar to everyone, on the inside there was a power struggle between the real me and the pretend me. Trouble was, even as an adult I couldn't tell which was which.

Then my children grew up and left home. I would be alone. I couldn't wait, and I LOVE it! (I love them too and they know it). These years are heaven and have given me the space to uncover me and my differentness. Maybe I'm a slow learner in that I've not understood myself sooner, but some just don't. Maybe I've got such depth that it takes longer to explore me??? :) I like exploring and excavating all sorts of things including myself and these pursuits take time. That's how I'm most happy, how I'm at peace, when I'm okay. It's my natural state of being.

Accepting being different, i.e being at peace with who I am has not been easy. It's an ongoing and evolving process. Recently my process hit a major roadblock. I've had to stop and take stock of a big chunk of my life, again. It's harder being a lone wolf because I'm more self reliant than other people and have to make important decisions myself more often than not. There's a risk of becoming too alone, so I need to be aware of myself. Currently I'm learning to evolve, learning not to repeat mistakes made in the past. I'm learning more everyday about me, what feels good, what works for me, therefore what's right for me, not what's right for others anymore.

If you're reading this and going "What the...?" then you're OKAY already, HOORAY. If my words gel with you and you feel different, take heart. Being different is okay just as much. If you can accept that, you've got yourself in the right frame of mind. Set about supporting you as that person, loving your uniqueness, and see it as a gift that no-one else has.

Being different often means being a lone wolf and therefore being disinclined to join support groups or clubs or online chat groups for help. It's like knowing that visitors are coming; you've got to be there for them, be responsive and alert, when all you really want to do is ignore everyone and be left alone. Often it's hard to find what you're looking for about yourself but these days the internet offers so much information without ever becoming involved. Personality tests such as Myers-Briggs are excellent and fun, yet serious ways to get insight into yourself. I did it and was blown away by what I discovered.

I also ask myself these questions from time to time. The answers keep my happiness, my differentness on track.

  • What do I like?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What is fun?
  • What is good?
  • Where is good?
  • Who is good?
When I answer these questions honestly I have peace and happiness in my life. I no longer feel different, I realise being different is only a point of view, just like in a scene in a book. What actually counts you see is how YOU feel about being different. In fact, being different is rather cool :)

Maybe there's a book here one day.

At the moment I'm catching up on some leisure-time reading, mostly when I've gone to bed. I've started on R D Brady's The Belial Stone series and am loving it.

That's it from me and Winnie and Hunny for this week, have a great weekend everyone,


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Blogging's YaYs Outweigh YuKs.

IWSG BadgeIt's Insecure Writers' Support Group Blog Hop day again YaY!

My blog is nothing fancy, I don't have a huge following nor is it my favourite writing occupation. In fact, I never wanted to start one. So why did I?

I decided after I self-published my first book last year that I needed an author platform. You know, visibility. I learned all about it after I signed up with Amazon and bought some ebooks on writing and self-publishing. So I set off on the path of social mediadom - this blog, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ accounts. I had resisted social media before because I didn't think I had anything to contribute and neither did I want to 'engage' all the time. I was a private person after all. 

However, blogging provided many unexpected spin offs which I'm very grateful for. No, it's not the greater visibility, although that has happened. What I've found is this:
  • Improved book writing. Through writing my own and reading other peoples' blogs, I've learned a great deal about honing and cleaning up my skill. For example, my use of adverbs is now almost non-existent YaY! This is a biggie because I'm not a trained writer and I've climbed some steep mountains in the past year to become acquainted with the craft.
  • I'm persistent. I love writing. Sometimes I'm unable to write much for health reasons, but if I keep my blog going I'm still writing and improving my writing. I'm not giving up, and writing a once a week post is do-able.
  • Good discipline. It's a little like being persistent. Blogging is writing, and being disciplined about writing is always a plus.
  • Information. Blogging has opened up a wonderful world of bloggers and their information. If I hadn't started blogging and following other blogs I'd never have discovered so much helpful information on writing.
  • Helps with organisational skills. Blog posts need to be planned and organised. I'm not too good at this one yet, but there's been significant improvement in the past year. I used to have no plan and just write. Now I'm more organised and have a plan which I think of and add to during the week before a post.
  • Communication. I can write in my p.j.'s if I want to. I can write anytime, anywhere and no-one knows. Blogging is a means of remaining private whilst going public.
  • Social media. Social media is wonderful! Now I can communicate my thoughts and ideas across the planet with a click of my mouse button. I can tell the world, via my blog, about progress with upcoming books or how my week's been. If the world wants to know that is. 
As for the Yuks here they are just to balance things out.
  • Time. Blogging takes up way more time than it should. When I think about it I almost shudder. Some say half an hour is all you need per post. I don't. Mine are magnum opi, time wise. I won't tell you how much time I spend each week on a post. Maybe it's because I'm a 2 finger typist?
  • Pantster. There's that word again. Pantster. AKA 'fly by the seat of your pants'. I'd love to have my posts planned before they are written. And even though I'm improving, even though I now prepare before post day and have a draft ready, I often rearrange the post, like today.
  • Not my favourite. Sadly, blogging is not my favourite writing exercise. Despite all the benefits it brings to writers, and I firmly believe it does, remember visibility, I'd rather be doing something else. 
  • But it's growing on me!
Yes, I have to admit it. Blogging is growing on me. I'm liking it more with each post and if anyone new out there in writing world is considering whether it's worth your while I'd say a shouty YES.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Staying versus Quitting: It Can Be a Very Fine Line.

Aristóteles por Luis Alberto Costales.jpg

Image: Aristotle by Luis Alberto Costales

YaY! HooraY! "Staying Strong", my mini memoir of breakdown is ready for review. With one mighty push, I've got it ready for scrutiny before publication.

I'm not a quitter, even though some things take longer to complete than I'd like, and sometimes I wonder whether it's worth the time and energy. Who knows that one? Most of us in one life aspect or another. So I'm a stayer.

On occasion however, staying can be flawed and we need to know when to quit. Not easy I hear you say? I agree. There's a fine line between the two, and making the decision either way is often difficult, especially when you're under pressure.

We all know the scenario of  new writers envisioning fame and fortune. I did. At least, I was hopeful of some fortune. I didn't care for the fame, I'm too introverted for that. We write a book, thinking (knowing) it to be a masterpiece, self-publish it to Amazon and sit back waiting for the rest to be history. Nothing happens. We're shocked, become angry, disillusioned, and give up on writing forever. Yes, it does happen this way.

But how about this. What happens in the staying too long scenario? Let's take a look.

Let's say you wanted to be a full time stay at home writer, but instead you worked in the city. This job was highly paid but demanding and stressful and you hated it. It meant that everyday you had an early start and long commute, and when you arrived home late at the end of a long day you were exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. You snatched what time you could with your spouse and rarely saw your young children.

Weekends weren't much better. There were sports events and family outings and precious little time for you and your craft. Whenever you had a spare moment you would write. You would write because it kept you sane, because you loved it and you believed you were good at it. You would love to write full time but that would mean serious changes.

Time came when working in the city became unbearable and you made the decision to leave. You self-published your first book, and with great anticipation looked forward to the extra income you expected and needed. It was a success, but your success was short lived. Your next book wasn't as good and you had some bad reviews. You put on a brave face and wrote on, determined to do better.

Below the surface however, cracks began to appear. Writing had become a labour not a love but you continued writing because you had to. You had responsibilities. You had a spouse and family depending on your share. Guilt mounted, you had taken them down this path - they had put their faith in you. They had trusted you.

Now creditors called almost daily but you couldn't tell your loved ones, anyone. That was too embarrassing. And private. Besides, maybe if you re-wrote the last book with a new angle? But you were so tired, you could hardly concentrate. You had to carry on. You weren't a quitter. If you quit now, what else would you do?

Then unexpectedly your spouse's mother passed away. Your spouse who had been your rock now needed you. But you couldn't help. It was all too much. It was the final straw, the extra stress and worry tipped you over the edge. You broke. All your walls came crashing down into panic, anxiety and depression. You collapsed into a shuddering, sobbing mess, useless to yourself and all those around you.

You stayed too long.

And yes, this happens too. This brief story is not in the realms of fantasy. In fact many people find themselves overwhelmed by life. Such overwhelm takes time to build, and this is important. I'm talking about sustained, long-term worry, stress and pressure, not one-off events. Under these circumstances it's vital to take stock and get help to make some decisions.

Decide if you need to quit. It won't be the end of the world if you stop writing or whatever you do, for a short while or even permanently. You've given it a GOOD shot. Stop before you become unwell.

As an indicator of what too much stress is here's the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to give you an idea. Even though the study was done in the 1960's it is still relevant today. I did the test recently and found I was way over the stress limit during events in "Staying Strong."

Personality plays a significant role in how we cope with life situations and therefore affects our decision making. Check out The Meyers-Briggs Personality Test. Being in the smallest group has had a major influence on my life. Again, this is a recent find but explains much.

Therefore the question of quitting or staying is difficult. Writing one book then giving up because it wasn't a raving success is not giving your talent a good enough shot. I'd say it's more about not having enough staying power. Your talent, if you have it, never had a chance to develop, it never got beyond crawling. Maybe you hurt yourself a few times when trying to walk and decided that was too hard, and gave up too quickly.

In an ideal world we'd all be balanced people, yet the reality is that most of us fit somewhere off-centre. If you're near the extreme end of imbalance, GET HELP. For you, staying may not be the wise option, no matter what. And yes, I know it's hard to judge for yourself, I know you think you can go an extra round. If you've written and written and your career's going nowhere, get help, ask for advice.

There's no shame, no disgrace, no weakness or failure in saying "This is no longer for me." It's far better to be honest and to move on than it to stay knowing this is no longer your path. I say "Well done" for the knowing.

Whew! I wonder whether extroverts have this issue??

Have another great weekend folks :) Time for lunch for me. See you next week.


Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Perfect Plan for Indie Authors. Who's Got It?


What's your plan indeed? Everyone's plan is different, there is no "one plan fits all scenario", yet each of us is working on our own perfect plan and we take bits from here and there to suit us best. Joanna Penn has a good plan. and many useful links to further sites.

As an indie author I had BIG plans when I first started writing full-time a year ago. Since then I've published 8 books which is not a bad effort, although I know it could have been more, much more. I have CFS though which means I write when I can, and that amounts to about 6-8 hours a week including this blog. I didn't plan it that way, but that's how it happened. I wanted to write more, more, more, to allow all the ideas in my head to reach the keyboard and eventually the world wide web.

And of course, I had dreams of living off my new found wealth. That hasn't happened yet, but I'm only 8 books and 1 year in, so still consider myself a newbie indie.

Before publishing my first book I read lots of "How To" downloads and ebooks. This one was brilliant, and this

I set up this blog and several social media accounts which were a new experience for me. I informed myself straight up on the best way to set up a platform, to make myself known. I'm an introvert who likes anonymity, ha ha ha, so you can imagine the quandary I found myself in. Maybe it's a writerly thing? Leave me alone, I want to stay home and write, I don't want to be in the public eye?

But thank God or whoever for the digital age.You can hide, sort of, and be out there at the same time. And if it wasn't for for the e-age, I and so many others would never have had the opportunity to publish our work. I love having information at my fingertips and to be in control of my output. Now anyone can write and self publish. Of course, it helps to write quality, and not flood the market with crap. I hope I don't.

Everyday there are more avenues opening for our books. There's no longer just Amazon. is a great site with the latest on new stores and how to get your ebooks listed. And then yesterday this email arrived from one of the Google Circles I'm in. This is next on my "To Do" list. A step by step guide to getting you ebooks listed for FREE. ebooks stores are global now and it's easier than ever to have your books everywhere, and you should, to optimise exposure, readership and income.

Earlier in the month this came in from the same Google Circle. Another excellent step by step strategy to bring in the sales and the money. I've got this on my "To Do" list as well. When I get around to both these plans is unknown, but they are planned. CFS remember.

This week luckily I stuck to my plan. In the 6-8 hours of writing I've done more "Staying Strong" editing. I had hoped to publish "Staying Strong" by June, but maybe in June now. Such is the way with plans. They do need to be flexible, not set in concrete.

Also, the Crystal book is firing along quite nicely. It's different from "Staying Strong" in every way. I'ts a guide book, not a story, and it has no plot, characters or theme! But I had a crazy idea one day and it's being transferred into this book. Of all my boards on Pinterest, Crystal Healing is the most popular, so my idea stems from there. I can't say when it will be out either, but you will be kept up to date.

That's it for this week.

Happy weekend everyone,


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Creative Nonfiction is as Good as Fiction: Show it Well and Don't just Tell It.

 I'm a writer of Creative Nonfiction and I love it. It's not the dry, dreary, boring or poor second cousin of fiction, but when written well, is just as vibrant, exciting and page turning. I love making my stories entertaining and informative and hope to enrich and excite readers' lives through the reading of those stories. And surely this is what good fiction aims for too, especially if you show and not just tell.

Just telling a story is not enough, in fact it's downright boring and I myself will put that book down fast. When you show me a story, i.e. bring it to life in my imagination, I'll read it with all that I've got. 

This is especially true for creative nonfiction. I've read some wonderful stories long and short that, to me, are excellent examples of the what the genre is all about. Coming Clean by Kimberley Rae Miller is a memoir about a child growing up in a house of hoarders. The book and her writing style are very contemporary examples of creative nonfiction. 

As is this very short piece First Kiss by Sharon Lippincott. It's only 474 words, but speaks volumes and paints pictures and images so beautiful they linger much longer in the memory than the words alone. 

Let's look a little deeper. Creative nonfiction has all the Elements of Fiction: characters, plot, theme, setting and style.   

One of my first forays into creative nonfiction was a short ebook called Hi, I'm Winnie. Winnie is my very clever Labradoodle. She dictated the book to me and insisted it be written in her voice. The book became a series of 4 and  included Hunny, my other Labradoodle.

When I write my creative nonfiction stories, I use all of the Elements of Fiction. For example:
~ characters ~ Winnie and Hunny
~ plot ~ everyday funny, quirky happenings and challenges only dogs can have
~ theme ~ Winnie and Hunny's lives
~ setting ~ our backyard, our town, the beach
~ style ~ humorous, 1st person dog perspective

First and foremost I need colourful and interesting characters with issues, who readers fall in love with or hate, and whose personalities evolve and enrich reader's imaginations.

There needs to be a plot which takes readers on a journey and has an ending, a theme which is engaging and page turning, and a setting vivid enough in print to bring images to mind.

Then I like to use charming humour for these short stories because it's perfect for gorgeous fur-babies who've written their own books :)

Just as much effort goes into the work of my books, into creative nonfiction in general, just as much research, just as much blood sweat and, oh yes tears, as goes into fiction. Follow the same process and structure, write, edit and question what stays in and what goes. Edit more, fine tune again and again, and at some point there is a book which you're happy with and is ready and good enough for publication. 

The technicalities are the same, yes, and nowadays the products are pretty damned good too. 

And that's it. The essence of writing either fiction or creative nonfiction is the same. Whether the story is made up or whether it's true life doesn't matter, it must be able to show not just tell. Creative nonfiction does that now too.  

Next week: Updates on "Staying Strong" and the crystal book

Have a great weekend everyone


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Your Spare 5 minutes: Do You Write or Relax?

Yikes! As I got into bed last night (Wednesday 9.30pm) in Australia, I realised it was IWSG's monthly blog post and I has nothing prepared. I'd missed posting last month due to unforseen circumstances, and if I missed this month as well I could get the chop from the blog hop.

Fast forward 15 hours. I'm now sitting in hospital waiting for an MRI, having last night planned to write this post whilst waiting to see if I could fill the time productively rather than flipping through magazines and checking the clock to see how many 5 minutes I've been here. I wanted to see how much I could achieve in 5 minutes.

I have it on good author authority that every 5 minutes of spare time counts, and if you've got it, you could be thinking about, taking notes for, or writing your next article, short story, novel etc.

Personally, I dislike this idea. Firstly because I doubt anyone could do much creatively in 5 minutes. Prove me wrong if you can. It seems to me that it would take as long if not more, to get the ipad, iphone, tablet, or goodness me pen and paper out, then the thought processes organised, let alone get any constuctive work done, notes taken or words written. By the time I've ummed and ahhed and organised myself 5 minutes is up, game over. (sigh)

Secondly, I dislike the idea because we're already busy and pressured enough. Why fill life with more of the same?

Instead, I say, take 5 and relax, chill out, take some deep breaths, take a brief walk. I'm sure my/your creativity will benefit more from this activity than trying to squash in extra writing productivity.

So you've guessed it, I'm not into grabbing 5 minutes to write whilst waiting for a meeting to start or between train stops (yes seriously, author authority remember).

By the time I finished writing this at the hospital half an hour was up. I had chosen to take pen and paper although I could have taken my tablet or used my phone. I'm happy I made the old school choice as no one else was fiddling with any device whatsoever, as I suspected, and old school made me feel right at home.

Here then is to however, wherever and whenever we write.

Write on writers!



Thursday, 1 May 2014

Can Ice-Cream save the Great Barrier Reef? Will it? Decisions.

Can ice cream save the Great Barrier Reef? It would be a first, but why not? Stranger things have happened, like a government boycott on ice-cream. What the?

The Queensland Government's Environment Minister Andrew Powell has accused Ben and Jerry's of  "false and misleading" statements regarding threats to the Great Barrier Reef.  In fact, Australians are being urged to boycott the brand altogether. I believe Ben and Jerry's sales have sky rocketed in the past week. Good on ya Ben and Jerry's, I'm with you.

These days there are many worthy causes, fights to fight, opinions to voice, and serious decisions to make such as which side of the Great Barrier Reef issue do you take; do you Save the Arctic, the Whales, the Bimblebox or do you simply sit on the fence and take no notice of any of these?

Many of us take a stand in one way or another, often unawares that we do, and I don't mean voicing opinions opininatedly (I doubt there's such a word but it fits what I mean here). I mean that in every given moment of every day we make decisions about what happens next based on what happened before.

What happened before could be anything in our personal experience. For example, what we "learned" from our parents, teachers, friends or acquaintances in the form of love, advice, pain, habits etc. We tend to follow what we've always followed, and therefore decide what we've always decided. Life's comfortable that way.

But what happens when challenges come along and life throws a spanner in the works? It will happen, someday.

What do you do when say, The Great Barrier Reef is under threat of being poisoned by dredge spoil? Well, probably not a lot because for most it's on the other side of the planet. It's not affecting you, you can't see it, someone else will take care of it. If you live on the Reef's doorstep there's a higher chance of action.

What do you do if you currently live in Ukraine or Russia? I'm sure you'll be doing a lot of worrying if nothing else. You may have decisions forced on you, and have major decisions to make.

It's all relative. It's all about where we are at any given place and time. For some of us, decisions and actions are non-negotiable, they must be taken. For others, there is a choice.

In my own little world, I discovered this morning that my sweet Winnie woof probably has epilepsy, and that I may have some decisions to make regarding her future well being. She is only young at 2 and 1/2. I've been through fur-baby epilepsy before with another dog I had many years ago. Sadly, his fits became so bad I made the decision to let him go to fur-baby heaven. He too was only young.

Maybe medical advances will ensure a better future for Winnie, as I'm not wanting to make a decision for her based on one I made in the past.
Winnie's 1st birthday photo with birthday ribbon round her neck.

Now I'm off to have a chat with the vet. Then it's back to head down, fingers on the keyboard and onward with the Crystal Healing book.

Until next week, have a great weekend everyone, and enjoy some ice-cream.

Leonie, Winnie and Hunny.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Write Then, It's Time to Write Again.

                                        image Susan Smith

There's been a writing hiatus here lately. Events have unfolded in the past month that have kept me away from "Staying Strong" but which have required me to do just that. I'm now chomping at the bit to continue with my memoir, and have had a brilliant idea about another ebook on my "to write" list.

It's on the healing benefits of crystals, but with a clever twist, which I'm not about to reveal, of course.

Many years ago I was a practicing Crystal Healer, along with other natural therapies, and I still use crystals daily. My post from February 2 talks about crystals; Now for Something Entirely Different: Crystals.and my Crystal Healing board on Pinterest, (see it also on the sidebar), has the most re-Pins of all of my boards, making it the most popular. So why not put this book at the top of the list I thought to myself?

Now crystals don't appeal to everyone, I understand that, but I'm not a mainstream sort of person either. I circulate to the left of centre, therefore my interests lie there and so does what comes into and out of me.

Being left of centre also means I'm more likely to to do things my way, rather than follow the crowd, sometimes to my detriment, eg, when I want to make myself known in the literary world but write obscure books on crystals. However, and oh well, at least I write what I love and maybe one day I'll be famous ( laughing happily).

We're told these days to do what makes us happy, write? Do what you love then you'll love what you do.

The same goes for the details. I love writing. At the moment romance fiction is hot, hot, HOT. There's money to be made if you can make it writing in this genre, but I don't think I can. I have to admit I haven't tried and maybe I will down the track, no doubt when it's all over red rover.

I like creative non-fiction where I can tell a true story and dress it up with all the sights and sounds of fiction, that way I don't have to start from scratch with plots and characters and all that. I've already got half the book in my head if I'm writing something from personal experience. Much easier.

So whatever comes out of me will always be different and unusual to some degree.

"Staying Strong" is that. It is a difficult book for me, its finishing point, like many goal posts, keeps moving. I expect it will be finished one day soon.

'Till then, I'll write when I can on "Staying Strong" and get started on the crystal mystery.

Cheers everyone,


Saturday, 19 April 2014

E is for Eostre, Eastre, Easter, even Ostara. What..?

Goddess Eostre

Wherever you are in the world you may be celebrating Easter, you may be celebrating spring, or you may be in the southern hemisphere like me where it is autumn. All the same, you're probably feeling the vibe.

I'm not celebrating per se. Although I was brought up Catholic, I chose to leave religion behind in my late teens, many, many years ago. As for eggs and bunnies, well, having children and grandchildren means they're still part of my cultural experience.

Many Christian festivals are said to have deep roots in ancient indigenous, traditional, seasonal festivities some people refer to as pagan rituals. Christmas and Easter are obvious and easy examples. There are many cultures globally which have variations on numerous festival themes and a quick internet search on any of them brings up enough results to keep anyone happy.

Back to Easter, and I did just that as I'm interested in the deep roots and origins of things rather than what's put in front of my face. It's a simple assumption that Easter was adopted by Christianity from earlier festivals celebrating the return of the sun: i.e spring, after a long, cold, barren winter, and further to add a young woman (goddess) to the festival. At this time of year birds lay their eggs, soon the chicks are born along with many young animals, flowers bloom, days lengthen, the cycle of life begins again etc.

Yet there's no hard evidence to suggest that there was a goddess associated with an Easter-like festival, and that her name was Eostre/ Eastre/Ostara. Easter Goddess? Have some of us been trying too hard to create something from nothing?

I'm of the opinion that Christianity pinched most of its festivals from older traditions. I hold those traditions in higher regard because they follow natural rhythms and cycles, and incorporate both the feminine and the masculine. In ancient times spring festivals occurred in March around the vernal equinox for you northern hemispherians, as Easter does in some years, but as you can see from the above article, the goddess worshipped at spring time was probably not Eostre/Eastre/Ostara. So where does that leave todays Easter?

Maybe it's a Christian festival after all and maybe it's not linked to earlier, ancient spring celebrations? I'd like to think it's not. I'd like to think they're separate and autonomous, and have their own meaning, symbolism and story.

I like to keep an open mind about, well, everything. That way, life's exciting. That way, I can suddenly be off and running on some never explored subject of extreme interest and fascination, just like this one.

   And that way, maybe myth, magic and imagination can be kept alive and real.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Daughter, Sister, Mother, Wife.

Image: Wikipedia


Once, a lady shared my life,
She was daughter, sister, mother, wife.
Far away she came to be,
And traveled long across the sea.

From family strong and loving, kind,
A different life she had to find.
With her husband, soon a child,
She settled in a country mild.

Four years on came baby two,
Her life was full with much to do.
Supremely caring, ever loving,
She gave her all, willingly, smiling.

Patience and kindness were her style,
Never was anything a trial.
Friends and gardens a joy for her,
And creatures great and small with fur.

Love and grace in full she had,
Strength to endure when life was sad.
She the determined and forthright one,
At times was I at odds with mum.

When twilight years came along,
Her man and son had already gone.
The women continued to carry life,
Mother, daughter, sister, wife.

Mother and daughter, four to two,
Family re-shaped, changed, new.
Now mother passed, back to one,
Rust zacht, I love you mum.

My mum passed recently, hence no post last week. I am happy for her, she is finally with my dad and my brother. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Koffie before the drive Home

Before sitting down today to write, I made my daily coffee. I have a little espresso machine and buy ground coffee which I store in my fridge, except for some which I keep in a small container ready for use. The last time I shopped the supermarket only had beans on special so I knew I was in for a hard road ahead.

So this morning I unearthed one of my treasures, an old 'koffie' grinder belonging to my parents. It came with them from the Netherlands when they emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950's and I recall them using it for many years. I only became a coffee drinker in the past 10 years, but maybe I kept the 'koffie' grinder for more than one reason. After a good clean, I had a great cup of coffee.

The other road traveled was south last week down the Bruce Highway. After a most fantabulous adventure in Townsville my girls and I headed home on Wednesday 19. The trip north from Yeppoon had been 8 hours plus in one day, but going home would be different.

We were tired after our full-on, happy days, but at one point considered heading straight home. Leaving Townsville at 3pm meant we would arrive around midnight. No worries, (Aussie lingo meaning that's ok) been there, done that many a time before. However, the plan was to stay in Bowen tonight, about 2 hours away. So we did.

Erica had booked accommodation weeks ago, and when we arrived at Horseshoe Bay, I remembered it immediately as a very spectacular and charming spot we'd stayed at many years ago, when the children were young, about 6, 3 and 1. What a coincidence. We'd hired a 'tinny' (Aussie dinghy), and motored about for several hours fishing and having fun.

This time the 3 of us arrived in the late afternoon and strolled along the shell and coral strewn beach, and among the granite boulders before taking in the wonderful sunset.

And after having dined like gourmets in Townsville, all we wanted for dinner was fish and chips! So that's what we had.

On Thursday morning, the Autumn Equinox, we were off by 8am. Only 6 or so hours to go now, we were new people.

An hour into the drive and we spot the Spirit of Queensland. It's travelling south, the track running parallel to the road, and in many places within stone's throw the entire length of the Bruce Highway. The Tilt Train also moves along this route, on other days, and it's faster.

Heading towards us are many green and purple Jucy, and white Wicked Campervans. Several were parked near the Strand in Townsville, with young people spilling and milling out of and around them. Ahh, I remember. Been there, done that too.

It's raining on and off now. Mist hangs low in places over the hills. We've been lucky as this is the middle of the wet season but it's been a very dry wet season. The wet season means cyclones and Cyclone Hadi has been lurking in the Coral Sea, teasing us with his indecision whether to make landfall or not.

By midday we need to make a comfort stop. Out in the middle of nowhere is a small 'servo' (Aussie slang for petrol station/roadhouse) Not being hungry, we buy coffee and a sausage roll and sit outside at the picnic table to eat. Ten minutes later we're on the road again, by 2.30pm we're home.

I silently thank my guardian angels for a safe trip as I take my bags inside, and an hour later I'm off to collect Winnie and Hunny.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

"A Most Fantabulous Week of Adventures..."

This past week has been made up of fantastic, fantabulous celebrations, adventures and ceremony. It all began early on Monday morning with a road trip up the Bruce Highway From: Yeppoon QLD To: Townsville City QLD from Yeppoon where I live, to Townsville, a journey of 741.9 km (492 mi) according to one of the many calculators available, and taking 8 hours and 1 minute, rather funny that 1 minute, it seems to me. Now, I've made this trip before and vaguely knew distance and time details, but time always varies according to how many stops you make and whether there are road works. Both are guaranteed. The Bruce Highway is the south-north National Highway in Queensland which runs 1,652 km (1,027 mi) from Brisbane to Cairns close to Australia's east coast, as you can see from the map.

My daughters Erica and Fini and I were travelling to Townsville for Erica's Ph.D Graduation Ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. We were understandably super excited about the upcoming ceremony, not so much about the forthcoming drive of 8 hours, and 1 minute, which could quite easily become 9 hours.

Predictably for Queensland, Monday morning was bright, clear and warm, and the further north we went the warmer it would be, so we had packed lightly for the 4 days we would be away. We were taking Fini's car, so she drove, Erica was the front seat passenger and I had the back seat to myself. I was grateful for this as I'd only slept 2 to 3 hours the night before due to excitement and anticipation, funny that. I don't get away much, so when I do, it's a big, beautiful deal! I could relax, close my eyes and tune out in the back seat and regain some lost energy for the days ahead.

"Our" stretch of the Bruce Highway - Rockhampton to Townsville - would take us through Marlborough, Sarina, Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen, Home Hill, and Ayr. Mackay is a city about half way, 4 hours or so, otherwise most other places are small towns with an occasional settlement interspersed like Ilbilbie or Gumlu.

There's not much to see for the first several hours before Sarina other than cattle country where there are white Brahman cattle  in their fields of light green grass (not the photo above) sprinkled with Eucalypts and Wattles.  Paperbark trees with their soft, peeling, paper-like sheets of bark flourish near rivers and creeks. At this time of year, most of the vegetation is green after the (unfortunately not enough) wet season.

As we near Mackay we pass into sugar cane country, established in the 1860's shortly after the founding of the then town. Kilometres and kilometres and hectares and hectares of sugar cane plantations spread out in almost continuous rows on either side of the highway, sometimes as far as the eye can see. Harvesting time approaches and most of the tall, lush green cane stalks look to be 3 to 4m tall as we rush by. In fact some of the cane is already being processed as evidenced by the occasional brown, stubbly field, and smoke rising from the stacks of local mills. The unique cane trains are nowhere in sight, but there are many empty bins waiting along tramways which frequently cross the road, bins to be shortly filled and hauled to the mills for round the clock sugar processing.

We'd made lunch and coffee and bought fruit and snacks for the journey, but nature called so we make a quick stop on the outskirts of Mackay, just beyond the turn off north. It's around 11.30 am and Erica takes over driving. About an hour in, Fini changes our entertainment from music to Deepak Chopra's "The Book of Secrets". I settle in for a session of deep learning, ahhh, excellent.

I listen, but also notice changes beyond the car. Traffic volume has increased, particularly heavy traffic like freight haulers. Small settlements and towns are more numerous. There are older types of houses here, Queenslanders,Abandoned farm house (image Abandoned Queenslander farm house in sugar can fields by teejaybee) square shaped timber dwellings of often only 2 bedrooms, set high with wide verandas all round to catch the breeze as much as possible during the long, hot summers in the days before air conditioning. I imagine the women 'glowing' in their long dresses and the men, dust covered, tanned and sweat stained, at the end of their day from the labour of hand cutting the cane...
Eventually the countyside becomes less flat, there are hills and ranges of hills to pass over or through, and the more hills, the less cane, until there is no more. Deepak's words are still sinking deep into my subconscious as we reach the outskirts of Townsville.  Don't ask how long the trip took, I'm not interested. All 3 of us are too happy to be out of the car. Needless to say, we'll have an early night, for tomorrow will be a double day of celebration. Ethan, my oldest grandson is turning 3. We'll phone him at some point in Yeppoon.

Wreck Point, Yeppoon, looking towards Byfield.

Tuesday, and first things first; breakfast. Erica knows all the good spots as she has lived here for nigh on 4 years until December. Her apartment was close to the northern area of "The Strand", Townsville's fabulous foreshore recreation and dining precinct. Her favourite brekky spot had been Odyssey, so we head there. After Bircher muesli and coffee, the day is ready for me and we stroll back to our motel. The girls need some last minute supplies for the ceremony later so go shopping then swimming. I simply rest.

Barbeque chicken on fresh rolls with salad is for lunch, then it's suddenly it's 1pm. Yikes! How did that happen? The mad rush is on to be ready for arrival at the Townsville Entertainment Centre by 2pm. Unlikely methinks, 2.30 probably. Erica needs to collect her gown, hood and bonnet by 3, for the ceremony at 3.30.
Finally, dressed "to the nines", we make our way, in bright sunshine under palms, over sole-deep, carefully tended grass and concrete paths to the entrance area of the Centre. Erica disappears, to return a glorious sight in royal blue bonnet trimmed with gold cord and tassel, royal blue gown lined with red, and a royal blue hood also lined in red which is draped over her arm. WOW, WOW, WOW! My daughter looks so deeply happy, and beautiful. Someone told me once that doing a Ph.D is one of the most stressful times of your life. Erica can vouch for that, but oh so very shortly she will be duly awarded her prize and rewarded for her focus and persistence. And when her turn comes, the hood she's been carrying is placed around her neck and the bonnet reset on her head. Doctoral Degree in hand, she can now say the 8 years it has taken to get here have been worth it. And I am a very, very proud parent :).

By the time we've taken photos it's 6.30pm. We'd made reservations in the morning for 7pm at A Touch of Salt, a great restaurant with delicious food situated on the Ross River. We have a table outside on the terrace right next to the river. The sun is down and the balmy evening breeze blows gently, just perfect. We order mojitos, a martini and a whiskey sour, all with a twist, then wonderful mains consisting of Duck, Moreton Bay Bugs and Aubergine Lasagne. We're even brave enough to have chocolate dessert and port after. Yum, YUM. Whist at dinner we ring Ethan and sing him Happy Birthday. Nearing 3, all he wanted was Ninja Turtles, so that's what he got. At a "non party" event for him on Saturday afternoon, he was showered with all things NT, including a TMNT cake to round off the day. We too are well rounded off this day.

Wednesday morning breakfast found us at the C Bar, also on The Strand, and another round of Bircher muesli and coffee for me. I don't vary my breakfast menu often, even when away from home, preferring a light start to the day. The C Bar sits right on the water's edge, with rocky foundations keeping it steady from whatever weather events come ashore, and cyclones regularly do. In February 2011 Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast at Mission Beach, about 250 km to the north, and still left Townsville and surrounds battered, bruised, snapped and exfoliated. Erica was here then and and was evacuated from her apartment to higher, safer ground. Even Yeppoon, 980 km's to the south experienced strong winds from that storm.

Back to our motel after breakfast to pack up before 10am and begin the journey home. We're not travelling the full 741.9 km today, but only going a few hours down the coast where we'll spend 1 night, then continue home on Thursday.

Before setting off, Erica goes out to the uni to say goodbye to some friends and Fini and I relax on the foreshore of The Strand. Before us not more than several km's offshore is Magnetic Island, and behind us are joggers and walkers, grandparents with their grandchildren and fur babies with their mums and dads, and in the background stands Castle Hill.

This is quite likely the last visit I shall make to Townsville, and indeed up this stretch of the Bruce Highway. Driving long distance is not my thing, I prefer to fly. Tomorrow afternoon I'll see Hunny and Winnie again hooray! They've been boarding in kennels, and even though I explained everything clearly to them, I couldn't help but feel sad to leave them, hoping they would be happy.

(They had a ball).

Now for the return.