Word of Mouth TV appearance, and WIN a huge book pack!

I am delighted to be a featured author on Australia’s first online television series about food and books, Word of Mouth TV, hosted by Kate Forsyth and SL Mills!

Click HERE to watch!

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 7.38.46 pmKate, Sarah and I talk about the inspiration behind Three Gold Coins, the biggest challenges in writing the darker, difficult themes inside the story, and the absolute joys of Italian food and romantic heroes!

Kate serves up my scrumptious Tuscan white bean soup, we drink vino and I share the rather amazing moment that led to my big breakthrough into a writing career.

The whole episode is shot in Kate’s fabulous home in Sydney and we had a very long Italian feast indeed. (It is quite dark when we finish!)

You can also win a huge pack of my books, plus a copy of Matt Moran’s cookbook too.

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 7.43.33 pm Click HERE to find out how to win this bunch of delicious books.

Best of luck!

The Day My Ovarian Cyst Burst Mid Flight

36698“Attention passengers, if there is a medical doctor onboard, could you please make yourself known to one of our cabin crew.”

It took me a while to work out that this voice I could hear was calling for help, for me.

Not long after takeoff from the Sunshine Coast, bound for Sydney and a visit to Booktopia  to sign stock of Three Gold Coins (something I was very excited about), a sudden, sharp, terrible pain contracted in my lower right abdominal region. It was breathtaking, literally. I tried to get up and walk, I tried visiting the loo, I tried waiting it out. But it kept getting worse, I started feeling horribly sick, and when the world started going black around the edges and I went hot all over, I knew I was going to pass out. I told a member of the crew that I was feeling really sick and that was the last thing I remember before I evidently lost consciousness.

I have fainted many times. Severe illness or severe pain can do that to me. But this one was different. When I started to ‘come to’ I was on the floor of the plane, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t open my eyes, and the first thing I was aware of was a loud, rushing sound, like being trapped in a cyclonic wind tunnel. Then I heard voices, from a long way away, and ones I didn’t recognise. I had no idea where I was. To be honest, I truly thought at that moment that I had died or was about to die. As a bit more consciousness came back, I must have moved because suddenly a female voice was beside me, talking to me, and picking up my limp hand in hers. Someone put something flappable on my face.

‘You’re on Jetstar,’ she said. ‘You collapsed. You’re on the floor. We’re giving you oxygen.’

Then I started to gulp air rhythmically, almost like a dog panting. I couldn’t control it and still couldn’t open my eyes. I heard them call for assistance from the passengers and make another call to get an ambulance to meet us in Sydney. Still, my body wouldn’t work. I have no idea how long I lay there like that.

‘She’s hyperventilating,’ I heard the woman say. ‘Her pulse is really fast.’

Then the nausea hit me. I half sobbed, half groaned and rolled onto my side and started vomiting. They brought me bags. They tied up my hair. They assured me I didn’t have to move or do anything. They were unfailingly kind.

It took a long time for me to sit up, though I could only stare at a fixed spot on the floor, all my concentration taken in trying to stop the world from spinning, stop the nausea, stop vomiting.

Eventually, they helped me up and I staggered to an empty row–one they’d cleared for me. The young woman–Jetstar crew–sat beside me, offering me sick bags and paper towels, sips of water and an ice pack as somewhere along the line I’d gotten really hot and flushed. She was so lovely. I’ve no idea what her name was but I remember being impressed that she could sit so close to me while I retched over and over and still be so kind. The pain was still there but had subsided considerably. Now I just felt weak, shaky and horribly, horribly sick.

The ambulance met us on the tarmac in Sydney and took me to Prince of Wales hospital in Randwick. I was there for many hours feeling a little better with each passing hour. The emergency department was heaving with people and super busy doctors and nurses.  But everyone was so kind. I had a lovely doctor–Omid–who was caring, focused, quick to jump in and find a vein himself when success was looking doubtful, and very thorough.

The two main concerns were for a burst appendix or a twisted ovary. An ultrasound confirmed a burst ovarian cyst.

I had no idea I had an ovarian cyst. This event was traumatic enough in itself but for me an equally unsettling aspect is really that I had a nearly three centimetre cyst (apparently small on the scale of cysts, which can grow up to the size of an orange, while ovaries themselves are around the size of an almond) but had no idea. How easily could that have been a tumour? To be honest, I don’t really give my ovaries too much thought. They are quiet and out of the way, after all. Yet my mother lost an ovary in her mid-thirties to an ovarian cyst. I know women with polycystic ovaries. And I know two that had tumours removed from their ovaries.

If sharing this experience does anything, I hope it gives you pause to consider your ovaries. Do you know the signs of ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer? Do you take them seriously? I say I had no idea that I had the cyst, and yet in truth, I do ignore pains. Having a few rheumatological conditions already, I have a high pain threshold and a great ability to ignore pain and dismiss it as just an everyday companion of my life. But we really can’t afford to be so flippant, can we? Obviously, it’s not practical to run to the doctor for every small twinge or passing headache. But maybe we just need to include a bit more mindfulness about our bodies, actively making time to ‘tune in’ and ‘check in’ when we feel something before hastily dismissing it. Stay up to date with information about signs and symptoms to look for. Check in with your doctor.

Also, I do want to say a huge thank you to the Jetstar crew and to the entire planeload of passengers who were disrupted by my event, and at least one person I know of who had been waiting for her meal and didn’t get it at all. That night in hospital, while waiting for results, I suddenly wondered if people had Tweeted about it and complained but I did a search and no one had, and in this day when people seem so keen to take to Twitter to gripe about everything, I do appreciate that.

I’m also very sorry to say that I obviously didn’t make it to Booktopia to sign stock, so if you were hanging out for a signed copy from there, I am very sorry.

Finally, a couple of people have said to me that there might have been a connection between the cabin pressure and the event and having googled that I certainly came across quite a few women who’ve had this happen on a flight. So if you know you have ovarian cysts, I would urge you to discuss that with your doctor too.

Events for Three Gold Coins

img_0112We are on the countdown to Three Gold Coins hitting the shelves and confirmed events are beginning to roll in. This is the fun part of writing a book… leaving my seclusion and getting out to meet you, my fabulous readers! You are the reason I write!

So far, I have events on the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, with one still brewing for Sydney and some others in the pipeline. You can check them out on my Contact Me/Events page but do make sure to keep checking back for updates as they happen. I’d love to see you out there on the road!

The Beekeeper’s Secret has taken flight!

I am so very proud to let you know that my third foodie fiction novel, The Beekeeper’s Secret, has taken flight and is now out on the shelves around Australia and New Zealand (and will be out in the UK/Ireland in July).

I had a great time down in Sydney last week launching this book and was thrilled to be invited to Booktopia to sign a couple of hundred books (which you can order your signed copy here). And I was very blessed to have my friend, Ashley Jubinville, to accompany me, spending an extraordinary number of hours creating a stunning beehive cake for the morning tea spectacular with my publishers.

Thank you to everyone who has bought the book so far and for those who’ve sent me great feedback and/or taken the time to write reviews online. It is much appreciated.

Fly free, little book xx

A Writer’s Year Plan

It’s been a great year for me and it hasn’t been by accident. At the end of last year, I wrote down my reflections of the year, I pinpointed the things that went wrong and wrote strategies for how to avoid them or deal with them if it happened again. I wrote down all the great things that did happen and all the things I wanted to change. And I mapped it all out, both personally and professionally and then I executed it, month by month. And I did it all in Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year workbook.550x381_AffiliateGraphics_2016

You know how they always say that when you write something down it’s more likely to come true?

That is the value in year planning.

In my last post, I introduced you to the year planner that changed my life in 2015. In this post, I want to tell you about some of the things I wrote down in my year planner that came true, even when I thought they were just fanciful, fun dreams.

The funny thing about writing these things down was that, for the most part, I completely forgot about them. And then months later, when checking in, I stopped and went, wait a minute! I just did that! Better than that, often what I wrote down came true, yes, but in a way that was even BIGGER and BETTER than what I’d written.

Here’s some:

  1. Get new author pics. I was lining up a friend or my sister to do this for me and then about two weeks after I wrote this, my publisher emailed out of then blue me asking if Allen & Unwin could organise this for me, with a professional photographer and a makeup and hair person. Whoa! Yes please! Thank you, A&U, you are generous and wonderful and make me look much better than I feel.
  2. Do yoga. I wrote this down, thinking I’d like to do a class. But you know what? We did better. My husband and I decided we needed a private yoga teacher and it was possibly one of the best things we’ve ever done for ourselves.
  3. Fly to Sydney to see my publisher and agent (for no other reason than to see them). I did this and it was great not only to catch up when things weren’t so hectic but because EXTRA things came directly out of the fact that I did that: (1) totally unexpectedly, I was invited to submit a manuscript for a children’s book that I’d been scribbling away on; (2) I got a new title for my next book, The Beekeeper’s Secret (thanks, Tom); and (3) I booked a flight to the UK! (see next point)
  4. Fly to the UK. I did it! That one was totally a ‘wish list’/ ‘in your dreams’ thing and yet… it came true!
  5. Pay off the mortgage. Okay, this one was also an ‘in your dreams’ thing. But the thing with this one is that I didn’t specify which house to pay off. In my head, I was thinking our family home. But what has happened is that our beautiful tenant has left our other property (our family home before this one), so we put it on the market and we’ve just got a contract for it and that will pay it off. So it’s all good.

I also invested in my business systems.

  • I changed my focus from social media and began a quarterly newsletter, and when I mentioned it to my publishers, they offered to help out with some prizes for some issues. (Did I mention how great they are?)
  • I made a book trailer for The Chocolate Promise / The Chocolate Apothecary.
  • I got a personal assistant. This was also an ‘in your dreams’ thing (almost laughable). But guess what? I did it! Only for a couple of hours a week, sure. But it is a great move and I’m so pleased I’ve done it.
  • I invested a lot more time into my financial bookkeeping systems, spreadsheets of what contracts are where and when reporting periods happen, actually went and found all my contracts (I know, I know). In other words, I really took the legal/financial stuff a lot more seriously and set up processes to help manage the growing correspondence about this. (Truly, I’ve no idea how authors who have ten or twenty books all published in different regions and with translation rights keep on top of it all. But since I do hope that will be me one day, I guess it’s best I try to figure it out now.)

The other great thing that happens when you start writing down not only what you want to happen, but also what does happen, and what unplanned successes came along, is that you get into the FLOW of synchronicity and more and more good things come your way.

Great surprises and beautiful blessings for the year of 2015

  • A New York agent took on The Chocolate Promise and is hopeful of selling it.
  • I have contracts for The Chocolate Promise to be translated for the German market!
  • Kim Wilkins (Kimberley Freeman) gave the most beautiful speech about me and my book at the launch of The Chocolate Promise this year and it will stay in my heart forever.
  • I received an ABIA nomination for The Tea Chest and my publishers flew me to Sydney to attend the awards.
  • I got to take my sister, nephew and Dad with me to the UK, for fantastic family support on my research trip there. Lots of gorgeous memories were made and I even got to tick off another of my year’s ‘fanciful’ things to do… play Canasta!!! (We are Canasta tragics in our house and spent many hours laughing ourselves silly over the cards in the Cotswolds).
  • I have learned so much about myself as a writer, woman, mother, creative and human being this year (and I’ll get to another post about that soon).

Leonie Dawson’s 2016 Shining Year Workbooks  are on sale now but stocks are already running low. I cannot recommend them enough. You can choose just the personal life book, or the business book, or both, and you can get them in digital and print copies. They are a small investment in what could be a huge return on your dreams.

Leonie’s books get right to the heart of what it means to live, of what it means to have a business (the big ‘why’ of why we do what we do), of what it means to be alive and have dreams, and then grounds that in real visionary activities. I can’t wait for mine to arrive and to dive into planning the next beautiful year of my life.

Booksellers: Love Your Local

Since my last post about high tea in Melbourne, I have enjoyed another two events (in Brisbane and Sydney) with booksellers, who are smart, funny and creative people who absolutely LOVE books with all their might. Where in the world would we be without booksellers? I can’t even imagine but I know that’s not a world I want to live in.

You see, I spend a lot of time in bookshops, gazing at books as others might gaze at works of art in a museum, smelling the books (it might be a tad addictive), and writing. I sit quietly in corners, on couches, and sometimes on the floor. I find immense inspiration in the words and images already in print and there’s something just a little bit transcendental about absorbing the best of what surrounds me.

And I also listen (eavesdrop is really too strong a word) to the booksellers. And they are amazing. People come in and ask the most vague or helpless question about a book they want but can’t remember the name of, or about the gift they need to buy for their child/ neighbour/ boss/ crazy uncle, and those booksellers SELL. My word they do. But they don’t just hand over anything. Their passion and belief in a book spills over in their words and gestures and the customer smiles with relief and walks away happy. And I sit there with my notebook/laptop, pulling words from my brain for my next book, and I think, ‘Wow, I hope someone does that for my book one day.’

For me, the greatest part of the high teas was getting to talk to these champions of books and authors and publishers, hear how they constantly reinvent themselves to compete with global markets, and admire their tenacity and wit.

This Christmas, buy books! For everyone in your life, from your mother to your dog. And support the booksellers who are out there every day keeping our books alive.

20131121-070600.jpg

Me with my friend, Kathleen, who came with me to Sydney, doing the tourist thing and stopping for a selfie.