Sentence a day – June

June is done and we’re into the middle of winter. I suspect that I’ve acclimatised as I’ve really felt the cold so far this winter. Don’t look at me like that, the nights can get a tad chilly! Besides, I’m writing this at the airport in Melbourne where it’s really cold. Anyways, enough of the complaints, let’s wrap up June – in a sentence, or two, a day.

1. The morning spent writing at the Surf Club and the afternoon spent baking cookies and lasagne. This is what the first day of winter in Queensland looks like.

2. Friends up from Sydney for the weekend. Made a French Savoury Cake to go with tonight’s bubbles.

3. Fish and chips on the beach for lunch.

4. Monday morning walk, work, lunch at Korean, and a sad goodbye as my friends head back to Sydney.

5. Walk and work.

6. It’s cold – yes, even in Queensland. It’s a wear your uggies to work kind of day. Luckily I work from home. (As an aside, this isn’t me working…)

7. If you can’t say anything nice, talk about the weather – I worked and it rained.

8. Hairdressers, more rain, some baking, and some words.

9. Woke to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain had died. He travelled the way I like to travel – street food, real culture, to the gritty soul of a place.

Street art from Hosier Lane – I’m disappointed that someone has tagged this.

10. Lunch at Saltwater and finished binge-watching Collateral.

11. Queens Birthday holiday in Sydney so I have the day off – sort of, I still did a few hours. Anyways, a walk this morning and a picnic up at Mary Cairncross Park. And a photo of One Tree Hill.

12. Way too nice a day to be stuck inside working…just saying.

13. Take yesterday and repeat.

14. Back to back meetings and friends up from Sydney for the night.

15. Nambour Show Day so a public holiday. Dinner at Maroochy Surf Club with friends and a big win on the meat trays.

16. Off to Sydney – where it’s cold. Unplanned drinkies tonight with a girlfriend to watch the Socceroos.

17. Took a long walk around the city, lunch at the Opera Bar, and a look at my fave tree. You can read about it here. Shivered through the bus ride home.

18. Wind is icy this morning and I think I’ve put on every layer I brought with me. Good to see my colleagues in the office, and dinner in Castle Hill with friends.

19. Woke after a bad night feeling completely wrecked – too many late nights I suspect. Rainy and cold getting into work this morning and a weird pink sky tonight on the commute home.

20. There was an accordion player busking in Wynyard tunnel this morning playing “The Final Countdown”. Not only was I singing it all day, but it was weirdly uplifting. Out for dinner with friends – I’m way too old and tired for all this gallivanting on a school night.

Wynyard Tunnel

21. Heading home after work today. Jetstar flight right on time. #winning

22. Lunch at The Dock, blue skies and coffee with a friend.

23. My first attempt at homemade crumpets declared a success.

24. Can’t be faffed driving around looking for a carpark in Noosa so a redraw from the Decision Bowl had us having lunch at Rice Boi. Good result.

Pork bao

25. Ms T in Sydney for the week. I’ll see her in Melbourne on Friday.

26. Fun fact – in Cantonese wonton literally means “swallowing cloud” because they float in the broth like small clouds. That piece of trivia is much more exciting than my day – which was grey and a busy one in the office.

27. It’s raining again – some half decent words were written to try and get me out of the timeline tangle I’ve written myself into.

28. Missing my Nan today – she would have been 100. Man, she would have loved that – any excuse for a party!

29. Did you know that Speedo, the Aussie swimsuit company, was founded in the 1920s in Sydney by a Scotsman – Alexander McRae – who was born in a small highland fishing village near Loch Kishorn? Neither did I. In other news, off to Melbourne for a long weekend with MsT. Flight delayed, dumplings for lunch, best plate of pasta in recent memory for dinner, and something simply stupendous for dessert – but you’ll need to tune in on Thursday for the details.

30. A walk up to Brunswick for the best pizza ever. Seriously. Shopping this afternoon and continuing the Italian theme for dinner at Cecconis. Oh, how I love this city…I truly think I could be Italian…just saying

What I read

June was a huge reading month – all of the above. My read of the month? Lisa Ireland’s The Art of Friendship.

What I watched

  • Masterchef (of course)
  • Collateral (on Netflix)
  • I’ve just started watching Secret City on Netflix and am hooked. Canberra has never looked so interesting.
  • Shakespeare and Hathaway (ABC)
  • Poldark (ABC)

What I listened to

Aside from the usual podcasts I listen to while I’m working, I’ve discovered Branch Out – the podcast from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. It’s for research purposes.

How was your month? Read, watched or listened to anything great?


Sentence a Day… May

Banks of the Seine
The banks of the Seine

The first week of May saw a continuation of our France road-trip and the final stage – in Paris.

Then it was back home to work – and save for the next adventure!

What else? I got the structural notes back from my editor and somehow managed to finish the rewrite this month. This book is determined to write – and rewrite- itself.

Anyways, here is May in a sentence – sometimes two – a day.

Le Marais
Exploring the Marais district

1. It’s a public holiday here in France for May Day. F dropped us off just outside of Paris and we caught the metro in. Spent the afternoon exploring Le Marais – where we’re staying – and the banks of the Seine. Love this city.

2. Lots of ticks in boxes today: Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co bookshop, the Left Bank, Latin Quarter, a cruise on the Seine, Galeries Lafayette.

3. A great first half of the day with the markets at the Bastille to start, a walk to and through Pere Lachaise Cemetary (with the world’s funniest accidental guide). Second half not so great – a wander from Champs Elysee through the posh part of town and down to Place de la Concorde. That part of town is really not me – too much money, too many people and too many pickpockets.

Bastille Markets
Bastille Markets

4. Paris redeemed herself today with Promenade des Plantees, the artistic viaduct, flower markets and ice creams at Ile St- Louis. I’m in love with this city again. It’s not goodbye, it’s a bientot.

5. Off to the airport at 7.30am this morning and on our way home.

6. Saturday and Sunday spent on planes. Finally walked through the front door at around 7 pm. Why does Australia have to be so far away from everywhere?

7. It’s our 24th wedding anniversary – and a public holiday for Labour Day. The two are not connected. Spent the day washing clothes.

8. Back to work – do I have to? Oh, that’s right, I have the next adventure to save for. Stood on the scales & rather than the OMFG moment, I had an OMG moment of a different sort – I’d lost half a kilo…in France! There could be something to this French paradox…

9. Mammogram this morning (all clear) followed by work.

10. Craving pho so indulged at lunchtime.

11. Hairdresser this morning (greys be gone) and a good start on the rewrite of One More Dance/HappyEver After/Book No. 5. (My editor’s notes came back last week.)

12. Markets followed by brekky at Jimmy’s. Life all back to normal.

13. Mother’s Day and lunch at Corbins – yum cha with a difference.

14. Back to work Monday and finally some blue skies for this morning’s walk.

 

15. Take yesterday and repeat.

16. Some good progress on the novel rewrite in the best office in the world.

17. Managed to sneak a walk in before work and before the rain started.

18. A stormy morning cleared to a fab Friday. Back to the Surf Club for more words.

19. Markets this morning, house-cleaning & the Royal Wedding on TV. Saturday taken slow and easy.

20. Relatives from Gloucester (UK) called in today. I made a lemon and thyme cake in the bundt tin – the recipe is a keeper and will make it into the next novel I think.

21. The day is so beautifully blue it seems a pity to be inside working.

 

22. Mum and Dad here from Sydney for the rest of the week – hoping the good weather holds.

23. Canal cruise in Mooloolaba and a drive up and down the coast to show Mum and Dad around.

24. I had to work so hubby and daughter took Mum and Dad out to the hinterland for a look around and a picnic.

25. Lunch at Sum Yung Guys for a friend’s 60th.

26. Markets this morning & then whipped up a batch of lemon lime & bitters scones (the recipe is here) for morning tea before taking Mum and Dad to the airport – we’ve had a great few days.

27. Astro club at Golden Beach followed by lunch at Woombye Pub. Parmy and rissoles – you can’t get much more old school than that.

28. Do I have to go to work?

29. I repeat, do I have to go to work?

30. Noosa to buy some gifts, lunch with hubby at Betty’s Burgers, and work on the novel this afternoon.

31. A beautiful morning with a pod of dolphins playing just offshore. Another big day in the day job. In other news, I finished the rewrite on One More Dance/ Happy Ever After/Book No. 5 tonight.

Ok, that was my May – how was yours?

Sentence a day – January 2018

We’ve been doing a lot of this time last year type comparisons of late:

  • this time last year we bought our Queensland house
  • this time last year we put our Sydney house on the market

This time last year…

It doesn’t seem so long ago – but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime.

Anyways, that’s all by the by – the first month of 2018 has flown by. Looking forward to February, it’s a busy one with work trips to Adelaide and Sydney on the schedule and a mini break to Melbourne. In between that, I have some freelance projects that are under deadline and a book that needs to be rewritten. So without further ado, let’s wrap up January so I can get my teeth into February already!

1.Happy New Year…and farewell to Fraser Island…for now.

Dinner at Maroochydore Surf Club…for somewhere different.

view from the Surf Club on a hazy evening

2. Brekky at One Block Back, Nice Kiwis back to NZ – it’s been fabulous having you here.

3. Back to work…enough said.

4. Testing and more testing, but also a big afternoon scheduling posts for January on the astro page.

5. Business plan (and post) completed for the year, Word of The Year post scheduled, Wellness goals and Creative Goals posts scheduled, and astro posts written and batched for the rest of January. That’s a huge tick in the box.

6. Markets, Jimmy’s for brekky, Nigella’s herbed lamb roast and olive oil chocolate mousses for dinner.

7. Another hot one on the coast, but glad we’re not in Western Sydney where it’s 45C! Secrets on the Lake for lunch and some respite from the heat.

Made a batch of corn and ginger soup with the corn I bought yesterday. The recipe is here.

8. Walk this morning, the gym at lunchtime, and the office in between.

9. Cut this morning’s walk short to have a swim as well. It’s hard to imagine that at 6.30am this time last year I would have been on the M2 bus into the city and doing a 90-minute commute to work with no time to exercise and absolutely no walk by the beach.

10. Back into the pool for some black line swimming. I reckon it’s been about 8 years since I did lap swimming, but man, it felt good.

11. Mum and Dad’s 54th wedding anniversary – seriously admirable in this day and age – and Adventure Spaniel gets a clean bill of health from the vet. In other news, my hair is green – I suspect from the chlorine yesterday.

12. Hairdressers – to get rid of the grey…and the green! She sent me home with some gunk that will protect my hair from future green episodes – although sadly not future grey ones. Back into the surf this arvo, so the fresh hair thing didn’t last long.

 

13. Winnie at Woombye for brekky, followed by a day of swimming, floating, reading…and some more swimming. Saturday done well.

14. Sunshine Coast Collective Markets this morning – scored some great earrings for $8. Pitaya bowls at Little Boat Espresso afterwards.

15. Walk, work, laps – all under a blue sky.

16. Dragged myself to the gym again at lunchtime – poked my bicep to see if it has grown yet…disappointment sets in.

17. Wednesday is usually a writing day, but sadly not today – I had to log into the office instead. Managed a walk in the morning and a swim at lunchtime in between. Big dumping waves down at Mooloolaba thanks to tidal surges and southerly winds.

18. A catch-up call after work with the friend in France I’ll be road-tripping with in April – love planning roadies.

19. My one day of the week to get some words done and boy the writing was a struggle this morning.

20. Went to buy a tart pan and bought a madeleine one instead – which meant I had to make some. The recipe is here.

21. Noosa Farmer’s Market for a change.

22. Friends from Sydney for dinner after work. Barbecue, potato salad and an apple and berry crumble.

23. Happy 76th birthday to my Mum – so grateful for how fit and vital she is and proud she still rocks a bikini.

24. Finally nailed the France road-trip itinerary…watch this space…

25. So humid at 5.30am on this morning’s walk. Train disruptions in Sydney so had to be at my desk early.

26. Australia Day – sun, pool, repeat.

27. Markets, writing and coq au vin and some little almond and apple cakey things (from the Rick Stein French Escapes cookbook) on the menu for diner a la maison. (See how I’m practising my French?)

28. Sunday lunch at Woombye – a real Queensland pub.

29. Walk work gym work walk.

30. Dinner and movie date with my daughter – The Greatest Showman. Spectacular.

Fabulous wave action at Mooloolaba Beach

31. Stupendous surf this morning, laps at lunchtime (with a visiting AFL team on pre-season training as a distraction) and work in between.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.

2018: The Word

Although I don’t always achieve as much as I set out to achieve, I am a goal-setting junkie. Every so often I think I should throw the goals out the window and just let it all be and flow, but I know myself a tad too well for that to work:

  • I have major issues with boundaries – I have no idea where they start or end. It’s why I can eat mindlessly whatever is on my plate and, also why I set myself deadlines – without them, I’ll drift on and on.
  • I’m a tad like Dory when it comes to focus. This meme literally is me.

  • I have a tenuous connection with reality and can successfully convince myself – in the absence of evidence to the contrary – that anything I want to believe is true can be so. This is great for when I need to believe that anything is possible, but not so good when I’m confronted with an expanding waistline. I truly admire those people who can manage their weight through the fit of their clothes. Nope, unless I see it on the scales it isn’t happening.

Why I set goals

Without goals, I drift and achieve absolutely nothing. I need the discipline and structure that a goal brings in order to get anything done. As far as I’m concerned, the stretchier the goal the better – that way wherever I end up landing is way further than I would be if I’d aimed too low.

It’s like how I always leave the bottom ¼ of a cup of coffee or tea – no matter the size of the cup. I’m the same with goals. If I aim high I’ll tend to get most of the way there, whereas if I am low, I’ll tend to get most of the way there. Same same but a very different result.

Word of the year

Further, I need a focus point. Something that’s front and centre that reminds me every day why I’m doing what I’m doing. Over the last few years, I’ve had a word of the year to help me do that:

2017 Adventure

2016 Awesome

2015 Fearless

This year? I faffed about with SIMPLIFY and hubby suggested a phrase: What’s Important?

While both were great suggestions, it felt more like a way in which I’d approach my goals, but not necessarily words to guide me this year.

I thought long and hard about HEALTH. It really fit what I want to achieve this year:

  • Healthy body
  • Healthy mind
  • Healthy relationships
  • Healthy business

Then I decided that at the base of each of these four primary goals is one thing:

HEART

I’ll blog my wellness and creative goals separately, but at, sorry, the heart of each of my goals, will be this word. My priorities this year will be to do things and be with people that:

  • improve the health of my heart
  • lighten the load on my heart
  • heal my heart
  • contribute to the happiness of my heart
  • make my heart sing

Do you do a word of the year? If so, what is it?

 

2017 – A Year in Books

 

I put my laptop away for the Christmas break and had a few days up in Fraser Island – which I’ll tell you about tomorrow. That means that even though it’s Wednesday, there’s no writing progress to tell you about today…it is Wednesday, isn’t it? I figured that I’d give you a round-up of my reading over 2017 instead.

How many books did I read?

According to Goodreads, I read 98 novels: 27359 pages – although there were others that didn’t make it to Goodreads.

Yes, that’s a lot of reading, but for the first few months of the year I was on a bus for an average of 3 hours a day – longer if there was a traffic problem on the M2.

And the ones that didn’t make it to Goodreads? Mostly genre romances that are devoured in an hour or so and are sweet but guilty pleasures – like glasses of bubbly and vegemite and cheese on white bread with butter.

The longest book?

Ok, I’m not great with commitment, so the longest book I read was Marian Keyes “The Break” at 576 pages. As an aside, whilst I gave “The Break” 5 stars it felt too long.

Any new series?

I worked my way through the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn series. I still have a few to go. It’s a series of cozy mysteries set in 1920s England and all very jolly hockey sticks.

I also worked my way through Amy Andrew’s Rugby series (I nearly wrote that I worked my way through Amy’s Rugby boys, but realized in time just how bad that sounded!), Anna Campbell’s Dashing Widow series and Nalini Singh’s Rock series. Yes, all of these are romances.

Additions to favourite series?

Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair was back for A Dangerous Language, and Sulari also gave us a prequel in The Prodigal Son. Her stand-alone Crossing Lines is on my kindle waiting for its turn.

Series I missed this year?

Ian Rankin’s Rebus…although apparently there is one scheduled for 2018.

Thanks for the recommendation…

I rely on my book blogger friend Debbish for additions to my to-be-read pile, and she certainly didn’t let me down in 2017.

Any 5 star reads?

Yes – nine of them…three of which I read in December. Sure it could be that I was feeling generous because of the season, but I don’t think so. Here they are, in the order that I finished them – from most recently read…

  • Two Steps Forward, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buit
  • Numbered, Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter
  • One More Song, Nicki Edwards
  • Deadly Kerfuffle, Tony Martin
  • The Word Is Murder, Anthony Horowitz
  • The Break, Marian Keyes
  • Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda
  • The Shape Of Us, Lisa Ireland
  • Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay, Jill Mansell

Any books adapted into a movie?

I tend not to read blockbusters – in much the same way that I tend not to watch anything nominated for an Oscar. I’m a bit of a reverse snob in this way. This means that often I don’t watch movie adaptations.

Genre-hopping?

There was definitely more cozy crime consumed this year – I’m loving that genre. I also read a some historically based women’s fiction – although I’m still not big on that term. Of these, Fiona McIntosh’s The Tea Gardens, Natasha Lester’s A Kiss For Mr Fitzgerald, and Victoria Purman’s The Three Miss Allens were the stand-outs. Gill Paul’s The Secret Wife also took an interesting turn back into Tsarist Russia.

Craft books read?

No, not this year

Any business books?

Nope.

What annoyed me this year?

My editor’s advice must be sinking (finally) into my brain because I read way too many books this year where sub-plots were added late into a book for the sole reason of enabling the author to tie together loose ends. There were also too many books that told us in the last couple of chapters about the character’s growth without showing these traits throughout. Oh, look! She used to be like x, now she’s like y…that sort of thing.

This cost at least six books on my list from getting a 5-star rating.  What is concerning is that all were traditionally published yet they felt like they needed tightening editorially. Perhaps I only noticed because I’m aware that this is something I’m guilty of too – like typos in quickly cobbled together posts…whatevs.

Best cover blurb?

On Tony Martin’s Deadly Kerfuffle: “Deadly Kerfuffle proves yet again that there is nothing Tony Martin can’t do. I wish I’d read the entire thing” Sam Pang.

2018?

This is much the same as last year. I have a heavy writing schedule planned, so will probably limit my chick lit again this year. I have a cozy crime series fermenting at the back of my brain, so will read more widely in this area – just nothing where the kid is taken or the dog dies. I still haven’t read any Agatha Christies so will rectify that.

Book-related resolutions?

This isn’t great news for the authors that I support, but my resolution this year is to go three months without buying any books at all. I have books on my bookshelf – both physical and virtual – that are crying out for attention and yet last year (and the year before and the year before that and…you get the idea) spent the equivalent of a very good holiday on books and music. I intend to work my way through some of these this year. I’ll revisit my progress (and my wilpower) at the end of March.

What about you? Any favourites? Recommendations? 

 

Sentence a day: December

It feels weird writing about December when I should be writing about 2018, but, of course, one year needs to be finished off before another can begin, so without further ado, let’s wrap December up – a month that started with more rain than I ever thought was possible to fall in a short space of time and finished with sun, sea and tequila. December, you were memorable.

If you’re interested – which of course you are – my year in review can be found here.

1.Tried out the new Asian street food place – Rice Boi – down at the Wharf. I’m in dumpling heaven…

2. Friends for dinner and a Nigella disappointment – the Italian apple cake might look ok, but isn’t a great pudding option.

3. Sarah home from Sydney – yay!

4. Deluge – we have a new water feature in the backyard. Got a walk in before it all started.

5. Sun sneaking through, but another massive storm this afternoon. Managed to get a walk in early this morning though.

Amazing light before the storm (see the frangipanis in the main shot) and an impressive sunset after.

 

6. Did some writing at The Surf Club this morning and had partition work this arvo.

7. Fabulous walk around the Headland this morning instead of over it. The Marriage Equality Act finally passed parliament – Australia, it’s about time.

 

8. Lunch at Saltwater at the Wharf – prawn roll and the best chips ever.

Eumundi Christmas markets this afternoon – pissed down and hardly any stallholders there…pretty disappointing.

as seen in Eumundi

9. Brissie for bloggers lunch – so good to meet these wonderful ladies in real life. Made it home before the biggest most intense storm we’ve had yet. Queensland is teaching me a lot about rain.

10. Finally got the taxes done and sent down to the accountant in Sydney. Phew.

11. Back to work – do I have to?

12. Gorgeous morning for a walk – such a pity the office is calling.

13. Kali at home delivery doggy day spa and I caught up on astro bloggy stuff.

14. Late afternoon beach swim after work – the best way to finish a working week.

15. Haircut, colour, and time in the pool to undo all the time in the hairdresser’s chair. I’m not that girl who can swim without getting my hair wet – when I’m in, I’m under.

16. Catch up with friends at Alex Surf Club and bedlam in Mooloolaba thanks to the Christmas Boat Parade.

17. Pre Christmas barbecue with friends – the first time we’ve done the entertaining numbers thing in this house – and my lemon curd pavlova is a thing of beauty.

18. Morning walk. Slow on the work front – thankfully.

19. Walk, Work, pool, work, beach – a good balance.

20. Take yesterday and repeat.

21. Drinks at The Dock

and then a Canal Christmas lights cruise to celebrate the end of the working year – what a great night.

22. Disappointing, but not unexpected, news re hubby’s contract – the project is coming to an end. Fabulous news to be going into Christmas with…not.

23. Cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking.

24. The Nice Kiwis are here – yay! Lunch at Sum Yung Guys – as good as it always is.

25. Christmas Day – full of a flamboyance of flamingoes and lots of fun.

26. Boxing Day – pool, sun, and a visitor of the serpentine variety to the backyard. I think he’s harmless – he’s certainly very pretty.

Mixed up with tequila, margaritas, and cards against humanity – plenty of laughs.

27. Brekky at The Velo Project, more pool, more sun, and some more visitors – not of the snake variety, thank goodness!

28. Sight-seeing drive through the Hinterland – plenty of others with the same idea. Lunch at the Imperial Hotel in Eumundi.

29. Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island. It’s a hot one, but the breeze on the barge and a late afternoon swim cool us down.

Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island

30. Fantabulous 4WD bus tour of Fraser. Swimming at Lake Mackenzie and Eli Creek, picture stops at the Pinnacles and the wreck of the Maheno, and a walk through the valley at Central Station. (Keep an eye out for my post…)

31. New Years Eve. Sun, storms, bush tucker and dancing. Goodbye 2017 – you’ve certainly been an adventure…which was fortunate given that adventure was my word of the year!

2017 – It’s a Wrap

One of my fave photos of the year – one of the many I took of lanterns in Hoi An

I sometimes think my annual wrap up or year in review posts are my favourite ones of all. You’ll find last years here. As for 2017? I’m going to wave it goodbye fondly – not in the way I waved 2016 goodbye, which was enthusiastically (and don’t ever think about setting your foot inside this door AGAIN…SLAM!) On the whole 2017 has been, relatively speaking, good to us.

Ok…let’s get on with this…settle in, it’s a long post…

1.What did you do that you’ve never done before

Believe it or not, up until this year I’d never spent a night in our house alone. I’d also never “lived” alone. I did both in 2017 when hubby and daughter moved to Queensland six weeks before I did. In addition to that, I also:

  • Went Whale Watching
  • Did a joy-flight in an open cockpit bi-plane

On my bucket list is to go to an AFL Grand Final – with extra points if Richmond or St Kilda were playing. We got pretty close to that this year – being in Melbourne on Grand Final day and joining in with the pre-match fun stuff in Tiger town aka Richmond.

2. What was your word for the year? How did you go with that?

My word for 2017 was Adventure, and that’s what it was. Moving was an adventure, and once up here I’ve tried to approach exploring the region as a whole series of new adventures.

3. What countries did you visit?

Vietnam and New Zealand.

4. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

Are you kidding? You’d think that I’d know better by now.

Health

  • My pack pain is heaps – and I mean heaps – better.
  • I have no idea what my blood pressure is, but given that my heart no longer feels as though it’s beating its way out of my chest, that’s a good thing.
  • I hit the fattest point I’ve ever been in 2017, so enough said about that one.

Blogging

Actually, I did pretty well on this.

  • I revamped this site in October, and the astro site on the weekend.
  • I kept a fairly consistent blogging schedule, although let the content slip on the astro site during November.
  • I won’t look at the visitor stats until next week but suspect they’re down as I lost many readers from and anyways when I switched blogs and lost a heap from the astro blog when it was down for an extended period in the beginning of October.

Writing

  • I wrote one book – I Want You Back – and am yet to publish it. It’s sitting there needing a blurb and some formatting.
  • I finally released Baby, It’s You and Wish You Were Here onto ibooks
  • I haven’t looked at my sales figures since March, but given that the “royalties” are dribbling in, I’m still selling nowhere near what I should be. Having said that, I’ve done very little to attempt to change this situation and don’t want to talk about it again until 2018 thank you very much.
  • I’m almost done with the first draft of my 5th novel.

Travel

Hoi An Faves
  • Nailed this. We had 2 weeks in Vietnam in April – immediately after moving house. Man, did we need it!
  • We also had a couple of long weekends in Melbourne, an over-nighter to Bundaberg, and I had a mini-break in Wellington.

5. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No

6. Did anyone close to you get married?

No

7. Did anyone close to you pass away?

Thankfully no.

8. How did you spend New Year’s Eve 2016?

On our neighbour’s deck. We had nibblies, drank a lot of champagne and did everyone’s tarot cards for the year. She’s a scientist andI’m an astrologer so go figure. On a side note, they were pretty spot on. The two of us are available for hire.

9. How did you spend your birthday this year and how old were you?

I came to Queensland for the weekend but on my actual birthday (Sunday) I had an early brekky with my family and then was on the mid-morning Jetstar flight back to Sydney to keep packing. My parents and two sisters came over in the afternoon for cake, I sold the sofa bed we’d been trying to sell and helped the buyer load it onto the trailer, and I had a couple of other potential buyers come in to look at some of the other furniture we were selling. Then I went next door for dinner and bubbles.

It wasn’t by any means what I’d planned for my fiftieth birthday. I was all set to have a party, so I let one of my characters in I Want You Back have my denim themed party instead.

10. What would you like to have more of next year that you lacked in this one?

Willpower.

11. Did you tick anything off your bucket list this year?

  • Whale watching
  • Cruise Halong Bay
  • Have pho in Vietnam
  • Speak at a conference

12. What dates from this year will remain etched in your memory and why?

March was mental. All of it. We moved, we unpacked, we went to Vietnam – all in the space of less than a week. Oh, and the day after we went to Vietnam leaving our 19-year-old in a brand new house ex-Cyclone Debbie hit and took out the power for 3 days – and the contents of the fridge and freezer we’d just stocked. Sarah wasn’t worried about the lack of power but was concerned about the number of geckos.

21/1/17 We inspected the house we now live in and after 5 minutes of earnest discussion at Mooloolaba Surf Club put an offer in on it. We love it to pieces.

14/2/17 We exchanged unconditional contracts on the sale of our Castle Hill Home

22/3/17 Watching the movers drive away from Castle Hill and our home of nearly 18 years. Mum came and helped me clean and after she left I remember sitting on the carpet in the empty lounge room with my laptop, drinking red wine out of a coffee mug. Shutting the door and leaving the keys on the bench was surreal. Again my neighbour came to the rescue with dinner, bubbles and a lift to the hotel I was spending the night in. I flew out early the next morning to join my family in Queensland. I didn’t cry until I saw Grant at the airport the next morning – and I’m sure that was more tears of exhaustion than anything else.

24/3/17 We moved into our new home – and it was Sarah’s 19th birthday

14/7/17 Whale watching with Sarah – I’ll never forget the look of sheer joy on her face

26/8/17 “Buzzing” the Pt Cartwright lighthouse in the bi-plane. Such a, (sorry), buzz.

13. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting the nod to speak at this year’s Romance Writer Conference – and getting paid for it!

14. What did you learn this year?

  • That I’m busy, but not necessarily as productive as I could be.
  • That we have enough.
  • That we are enough.
  • Even though I took 2 weeks off in 2017 and went to Vietnam, I had freelance astro commitments and self-imposed book deadlines that meant I was still working. I need to completely stop at some point in 2018.
  • Self-care is an entirely different concept from self–nurturing. I’m good at the latter, not so much with the tough love aspect of the former.
  • Losing an entire salary for the first 7 months of 2017 proved to us the importance of financial planning and having a buffer.

15. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope, touch wood…just a few days with a head cold in May.

16. What was the best movie you saw all year?

Didn’t go to the movies all year…next question?

17. What song was on high rotation this year?

I’m in the middle of writing, and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” and Katie Melua’s “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” are on the playlist for the new book.

When I was writing I Want You Back, Adele’s “When We Were Young” and Mika’s “Any Other World” was being played a lot.

I’m loving Vance Joy’s “Lay It On Me” and I’ve just downloaded a couple of albums by Danish Singer/Songwriter Agnes Obel. This year I’ve also added albums by Vance Joy, Ed Sheeran, Nick Cunningham, Ziggy Alberts, Ben Howard, Mark Wilkinson, Angus and Julia Stone, Jack Johnson, Jamie Lawson, Passenger, Oh Wonder, and The London Philharmonic Orchestra.

18. Where did your money go this year?

Ummmm books and music! And travel – mostly for my trip to France next year. Did I mention I’m going to France in April?

19. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder?

Happier. Definitely less stressed, less anxious and more contented. There’s no comparison.

Thinner or fatter?
Fatter – about 3kgs fatter

Richer or poorer?
Poorer, relatively speaking, but richer in terms of contentment.

20. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing and exercising.

21. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Beating myself up for eating too much, drinking too much, not exercising enough, and not being productive enough.

22. How did you spend Christmas?
Lunch was with my extended family at my sister’s house. The evening was spent at our place with our neighbours, a bucket of prawns and about the same quantity of bubbles. There’s a pattern here with my neighbour and bubbles.

23. Did you fall in love this year?

Yep, with the Sunshine Coast. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I’m home and settled. It doesn’t mean that I’m done travelling, but that I’m done wondering where I belong – because it’s here.

24. What was the best book you read?

According to Goodreads,  so far I’ve read 94 books in 2017 – that doesn’t count the short genre romances I didn’t bother popping into Goodreads. According to my ratings, it was a fabulous reading year. I did have a few books that I put aside without finishing and without a rating – but we’re not mentioning them.

I apparently had eight 5 star reads:

  • “Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay,” Jill Mansell
  • “The Word Is Murder,” Anthony Horowitz
  • “The Shape of Us,” Lisa Ireland
  • “One More Song,” Nicki Edwards
  • “Best Day Ever,” Kaira Rouda
  • “A Deadly Kerfuffle,” Tony Martin
  • “The Break,” Marian Keyes
  • “Numbered,” Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter

25. What TV shows did you watch?

I’ve just finished binging on Season 2 of “The Crown”. Other than that I loved “Shetland”, “Hinterland”, “Doctor Blake”, “Designated Survivor”, and “Victoria”. I also re-watched “The Good Wife” and “Midsomer Murders”.

26. Who did I miss this year?

Friends and family left back in Sydney…but not enough to even consider looking backwards! What I certainly didn’t miss was the daily 3-hour commute. I still try and have a Friday night vino with my neighbour – although these days it’s a virtual vino. I also missed dumplings…does that count?

27. What kept you sane this year?

Kali, Adventure Spaniel snoring under my desk and walks along the beach most weekday mornings. It’s such a treat living so close to Mooloolaba – we’re about 10-15mins drive away. I never thought I’d be able to see the beach every day, but now I can.

My 9 most liked photos – according to instagram

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Sentence a day – November

The month started with another trip to Sydney for work, was punctuated by a trip to Wellington, New Zealand for pleasure, and contained a lot of rain and, conversely, not much walking.

In other news, I participated in Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month – and nailed the 50,000 words in a month challenge. It’s a new book and I’m loving it.

Ok, let’s get the sentence a day thing underway…

1.Still in Sydney, still want to go home.

2. Miracle of miracles – Jetstar on time. Homeward bound.

3. Happy Birthday to Adventure Spaniel.

4. Markets, sun, pool, and lots of words written. I love starting a new novel.

me, poolside at home

5. Bohemian Bungalow for lunch – quirky, fabulous, and great music.

6. Work ugh. Beach walk and pelican squadrons in the evening.

The pelican squadron

7. Rain and storms so no walk this morning.

8. Nano word count on the way up. I’m loving how this book is coming together and love Provence Aimee as a writing destination.

9. A little wet on the morning walk, but some great light in the skies.

10. A good start made on the Christmas shopping and grey be gone thanks to my hairdresser.

11. Markets, brekky tacos at Jimmy’s, and spent the afternoon preparing slowly cooked five spice lamb and olive oil chocolate mousse from Nigella’s new book.

12. Food, flavours, scent and story with author Josephine Moon at Cooroy.

13. Do I really need to go to the “office”? I want to keep writing instead.

14. Sarah’s last exam for the Uni year – good luck sweetie.

15. Last day of work for the week and it’s a doozy. Fish and chips by the beach on a balmy Mooloolaba evening.

16. Off to Wellington for the week, but first, have to do battle with the commute to Brisbane airport. Flying across the Sounds is beautiful – there is no blue-green like the blue-green on New Zealand. It’s so good to be back. Sometimes I feel almost quasi-kiwi…is that treasonous?

17. A tour of parliament, a look around the Supreme Court, and an excellent bowl of pho, some shopping and sundowners on the deck. Bliss.

18. More shopping, more touristing, a few cocktails and an excellent dinner at Pomelo on Oriental Bay.

 

19. Brekky at Caffiend in Petone, a drive around to Makara, the cracking of the Christmas crack and a delayed flight home #orderanotherwine #ilovenewzealand

20. Test files – oh the pain. In other news, passed the 40,000-word mark in nanowrimo.

21. Still raining, still processing test files.

22. Yay Wednesday means writing time, and boy did I get some words done.

23. Meetings, meetings, meetings.

24. Hit the 50,000 words almost a week early. Nanowrimo nailed! Nailed, I say!

25. Grant to Brisbane for a post-cricket catch-up, Sarah to her Christmas party – that means I get a whole uninterrupted evening to re-organise and categorise my blog pages…and watch The Good Wife re-runs.

26. Astro group catch-up in the morning, Christmas tree trimming and present wrapping in the afternoon. All Christmas shopping officially done.

27. Morning walk, afternoon walk, and a tolerable day in the office in between. Monday done well.

28. Test files again… will it ever end?

29. Travel group meet-up tonight – talking travel over Turkish food, don’t mind if I do. A lovely group of ladies. Sarah off to Sydney – I miss her already.

30. It’s raining still. There are rumours of boat-building and a rounding up of animals happening up the hill.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of AgeLifestyle Fifty  and, of course, me.

That’s a Wrap…

Jacarandas in Eumundi

I have to be honest – I struggled a tad with this week.

Partly I think it was because I was in Sydney for work (and didn’t want to be), and partly because I’m at that point where I just want to not log on for a few days. And yes, I know that only I work my corporate gig for 3 ½ – 4 days a week, but I’m really tired. The thing is, I effectively work two jobs – when you count the writing, which I absolutely do count.

I had a break in April – but that came straight after packing and moving house. Prior to that my last proper break was a week in November last year when I did the Milford Track.

I think I need a proper holiday, but I really don’t blame people for laughing when I say that. I live in flipping paradise.  I no longer need a break from my life and where I live, but I do need a break from work. And yes, I’m aware that there are so many of us who do – and I’m fortunate in that I can…take a break, that is.

Anyways, without further ado, let’s wrap this week…

What I booked…

A long weekend in Wellington with my bestie. This will tide me over until those few days at Christmas – and until my proper holiday in April.

What I’m loving…

Not used to having to wear a face (or shoes) on a daily basis, I left my lipstick at home in Queensland – which meant I had to visit the Bobbi Brown counter in the city and I had to buy a couple of the new crushed lip colours. Oh my! These are my type of lipsticks – apply it lightly and you get almost a stained lip. Build it up for something more formal. Just perfect.

What I bought…

Christmas ornaments. We buy a new ornament for our (mismatched) tree each year. This year will be the first Christmas since we’ve been married where we’ll be hosting and catering Christmas for friends – and we’re beyond excited.

These ornaments I found in DJs city store were perfect for our first Queensland Christmas.

What I didn’t know…

That Jett’s fitness clubs started life in Mooloolaba and the founder, a Sunshine Coast man, is now on the rich list.

Weird Coincidences…

On the plane last Saturday I was approached by someone I’d worked with many years ago – in late 2011 to be exact. I recognised her once she told me her first name – Ros. Anyways, on Monday morning while waiting for my BMF and coffee, I had an almost identical conversation with someone else who I hadn’t seen since late 2011.

His name came to me many hours later – Rod. His surname? Exactly the same as the woman I met on the plane on Saturday. Ros and Rod, same surname, no relation, both last seen in November 2011. Weird, hey?

What we celebrated…

My father’s 79th birthday, Happy birthday, Ronnie…

What blew me away…

The development in Castle Hill since I left.

What is seriously almost Melbourne cool…

The installation down at Barangaroo.

What frightened me a little bit…

Weird spiky pain in my right eyebrow upon descent into both Sydney and Maroochydore. It’s happened once before a few years ago, but was really quite nasty this time. I suspect it has something to do with sinuses. Best not to dwell on that one.

What made me giggle…

The headlines in Sunshine Coast Daily that come up in my notifications. I’m thinking that they’re trying super hard to match with NT Times, but can never match the sheer brilliance of “if you’re walking on the reef and you feel some sharp teeth, that’s a moray”, or the classic “why I put a cracker up my clacker.”

An assortment from this week includes:

  • Man viciously attacked by mystery snake – authorities on high alert
  • Supercells predicted as storms strike coast (as an aside, we don’t have thunderstorms here, we have super cells)
  • Predators on move – get shark smart

and my personal favourite…

  • Gunshots? Loud bangs spark alarms in Coast suburbs (the noises were later confirmed to be fireworks)

Something I heard at the markets…

‘You’ll need to carry the donuts – I have to carry all the kombucha…”

Where we lunched…

Bohemian Bungalow at Edmundi. Oh how I loved his place. You can read all about it here.

What I’m reading…

A Deadly Kerfuffle, by Tony Martin. I bought it for my return flight the other day and it’s flipping hilarious.

How was your week?

 

 

 

 

2016: My Year In Books…

Girl with books

Inspired by Angela Savage’s year in books post from this morning, I figured it was a good opportunity to look at my own reading history for the year. Angela based her post on a set of “bingo” categories, but given that I’m shocking with categories, here’s my 2016 between the page.

How many books did I read?

According to Goodreads, I read 45 novels: 13,742 pages.

Yes, that’s a lot of reading, but I’m on a bus for an average of 3 hours a day – longer if there’s a traffic problem on the M2- so I have plenty of time to do so!

The longest book…

Ok, I’m not great with commitment, so the longest book I read was Penny Parke’s Out of Practice at 496 pages. Apparently the average length of a book I read is 312 pages.

The shortest book…

Nick Earl’s fabulous Gotham, at 57 pages.

Any new series?

I worked my way through a few (new to me) series:

The Cotswold Murder series by Rebecca Tope. Although the character of Thea Osborne – the house-sitter at the centre of each of the mysteries – was not one I found easy to like, the stories and the locations (and Thea’s cocker spaniel, Hepsie) I had no such problems with.

I also worked my way through Victoria Purman’s boys of summer series, and DB Tait’s Deception trilogy (including the Christmas novella). I’m really enjoying the way DB Tait brings the Blue Mountains to life and look forward to the next outing of her characters – and not just because she’s a Facebook friend.

On the subject of romantic suspense, Bronwyn Parry’s Sunset Shadows was one of my top reads of the year.

Inspired by Agatha Raisin’s The Quiche of Death, I also made a fair dent in MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. Given the number of these that Beaton has written, however, I’m thinking I might just stick to the TV series.

On the lighter side, I read all the Carole Mortimer Alpha, Knight Security, and Regency Unlaced series too. Yep, guilty pleasures – sort of like kraft cheese spread on white bread with butter and taco sauce. You won’t find them on my Goodreads list, but at the length of a long M2 commute or an afternoon on a pool lounge, I consumed them like one does a bottle of bubbles.

Thanks for the recommendation…

I rely on my book blogger friend Debbish for additions to my to-be-read pile, and she certainly didn’t let me down in 2016. One of my 5 star reads this year was The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Given that he was the original writer of one of my favourite TV shows – Midsomer Murders – I should have known I’d love it.

Another recommendation I’m grateful for was from Angela Savage. One of her blogs introduced me to Sue Williams and Murder With The Lot and Dead Men Don’t Order Flake. Cass Tuplin is a reluctant investigator with a takeaway store in Rusty Bore – and it’s crime the way the way I like it, with more than a touch of earthy humour.

Speaking of which…

I’m currently reading Good Murder, by Robert Gott. It’s set in wartime Maryborough, and I suspect I’ll finish it by the pool tomorrow – make that 46 books for the year. As an aside, I’ll be working my way through this series too. Murray Whelan eat your heart out.

Inspector Rebus…

Yes, he’s back – and Ian Rankin has again resisted the temptation to rest on his laurels. I look forward to a Rebus most years, and Rankin keeps delivering. Last year’s was good, this year’s was better.

Books adapted to a movie…

I tend not to read blockbusters – in much the same way that I tend not to watch anything nominated for an Oscar. I’m a bit of a reverse snob in this way. This means that often I don’t watch movie adaptations.

I absolutely adored Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods – almost a journal of how he attempted the Appalachian Trail. Yes, it puts my Milford Track dramatics into the shade, but the writing was so fabulous I watched the movie….which I enjoyed, but, let’s face it, there was little resemblance to the book – although I’m sure Bill must have gotten a thrill out of being portrayed by Robert Redford.

Which led me to…

Devouring pretty well anything by Bill Bryson. His The Road To Little Dribbling and had me giggling, and DownUnder…well, let’s just say it’s probably best not to read that on public transport. Travel writing – but not as you know it. You won’t look at a cow in the same way again. Or a rabbit.

Genre hopping…

Given that I write romance, well, contemporary romance, that’s what I mostly read. Having said that, I never read it while I’m writing it and, as Wish You Were Here took me so long to knock out this year, I hopped around a few more genres.

I’ve already told you about the travel writing and romantic suspense, but I also took a waltz into regency romance. I have to say, my experience with Carole Mortimer’s Regency Unlaced series had left me a tad jaded – something about the constantly tenting pantaloons will do that (am I allowed to say that in a blog?) but (Facebook pal) Anna Campbell’s Christmas novella A Match Made In Mistletoe was thoroughly enjoyable. I’ll be reading a few more by her in 2017.

The Magpie Murders was also my first step into classic cozy crime – a la Agatha Christie. It led me to a confession: I’d never read any Agatha Christie. How can that be? I’ll be rectifying that too in 2017.

Craft books read…

John Birmingham’s How To Be A Writer. Simply wonderful – and essential reading for anyone who wants to make money from this gig.

Any business books?

Something called Extreme Leadership by two navy seals whose names I’ve conveniently forgotten. I had to read it for work, and, which there were absolutely some good common sense lessons in there, I couldn’t get past the war stories…literally. I got excited for a few minutes when one chapter started something like this: ‘Goddamn it,’ I yelled, slamming the door behind me. Sadly, that was the highlight…for me, anyway.

2017?

I have a heavy writing schedule planned, so will limit my chick lit again this year. I have a cozy crime series fermenting at the back of my brain, so intend to read more widely in this area – just not anything where the kid is taken or the dog dies.

What about you? Any favourites? Recommendations?