Time to write that book


This blog was first posted on A Bibliophile’s Scroll. Check it out.

It is said that everyone has a book in them. Certainly in my experience this appears to be true. When people ask what I do for a living, and I tell them I’m a writer, most will inform me that they’ve always wanted to write a book. Some even tell me what the book is about. Most will admit that they really want to write the book … but simply don’t have time.

It’s at this point that I roll my eyes. I don’t mean to. (I apologise if I’ve done it to you.) But am I one of those blessed people who was born under a 24 hour clock while others got ripped off with only 15 hours a day? How can I find time to write when others can’t? Or is it possible that everyone has enough time to write a book?

I understand that everyone is busy. I am too. I run a business. I’m raising four boys. I also have a massive problem where I love a clean house but don’t have a cleaner … I’m thinking about making all my sons live in one room only, which will cut down on housework.

Life is a constant juggle, but I jam as much writing as possible into any spare minute I can. I write when my sons are asleep. Or when I’m waiting for my kids to finish jujitsu/swimming/drums. While other mothers chat, I sit in the corner and edit pages. I regularly stare into space as I ponder how to move forward with my plot (no doubt many people think I’ve lost the plot).

There is always time for that book if you really want it.

Do you watch TV? Turn it off. There, you have time. Spend hours on the Internet? You could be writing. Do you commute to work? I have a friend who writes all his novels on the Tokyo subway.

Naturally there are certain things I’ll never find time for, despite knowing I should. I’ll never find time to volunteer for canteen shifts at my son’s school. I’ll never find time to clean up my iPhoto, or make proper albums for my kids, or write in my diary, or read A Course in Miracles, or clean out the front shoe cupboard. But anything I’m truly passionate about, and anything I really want to achieve … well there’s always plenty of time for that!

It’s all Japanese to me!!!!


I once told an eighty-year-old Japanese woman that I had a full vagina. I was a guest in her home, which was tucked away in a tiny village on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. She offered me a third helping of Okonomiyaki, and I waved my hand in front of my face and said, “Oh no, thank you, my vagina is full.”

I meant stomach.

I more than stumble and struggle through foreign languages. I destroy them. Seriously. My mouth is a linguistic flame-thrower. But I at least try. I truly believe that when in Rome, you should speak… er… Japanese.

At lease that’s what I speak.

You see Japanese was the first foreign language I butchered… I mean learnt. But before long I discovered that wherever I was in the world, no matter how I tried to learn the local language, I’d open my mouth and out came Japanese.

It didn’t go down well in Hong Kong, let me tell you.

Or Taiwan.

Although the French seemed to at least appreciate that I spoke something other than English.

I actually went to language school while I was living in Vienna. I passed numerous German exams, and on paper did exceptionally well. But whenever I tried to converse at a party…


Not even good Japanese.

I once went to a dentist in Tokyo. I was a bit nervous, and tried to express my nerves (utter fear).

“I think dentists are scary” was the sentence I managed to piece together.

The dentist looked thrilled and his nurse giggled into her hand. Perhaps they didn’t hear me… so again.

“I think dentists are scary.”

The dentist puffed out his chest and strutted around the room, while the nurse giggled even more. It was only later when I recounted the story to a friend that she pointed out that “scary” and “cute” are similar in Japanese, and I’d been saying the latter. “I think dentists are cute.”

Although I’ve got to say it was the most painless filling I’d ever had.

I wish I spoke more than one language. However, I have always managed to meet, converse with, and connect with people around the world. As Thoreau said, “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”

I always mean well… I just didn’t mean vagina!


5 great places to search for Fairies


I’m up to my eyeballs in Fey folk at the moment, as I write my new book. I do love all things magical, and Fairies are right at the top of that list. I’ve travelled the world and seen some very strange things … Here are 5 great places to search for Fairies.

  1. Lake Bled, Slovenia: Bled’s tiny island, the only island in Slovenia, is steeped in magic. One legend says the lake was originally a meadow until the fairies called up the forces of nature and flooded the whole region, leaving only the hill where they danced jutting out of the water. Drifting across the lake towards it, it’s easy to believe that the island is still home to all sorts of mythical creatures.
  2. St Andra, Austria: This tiny town in eastern Carinthia is a favourite of mine. The woods that surround it are filled all sorts of magic, from Witch burning circles, to stone circles and fairy houses—mostly found if you step off the walking tracks. Locals told me that the “Mother Goddess” is still revered, and you’ll find evidence of this all over the fields and forests.
  3. Monhegan Island, USA: This small, rustic island 10-miles from the coast of Maine has always been a haven for artists… and fairies. Scatted throughout the forest and underdeveloped hiking trails are fairy houses. This is an absolute jewel of a place, and a must-visit for any fairy-loving family.
  4. Japan: Japan’s forests and mountains are filled with all sorts of nature spirits. I love their mythical creatures, especially the tanuki, which isn’t a fairy, but certainly magical. Elementals and fey folk are hidden in every rock, every tree in Japan… but you can also see some incredible fairy creatures on the streets of Tokyo. “Fairy Kei” fashion has been popular for years. The Japanese have an amazing street fashion culture, the Fairy Kei style being just one of the many “tribes” found in Harajuku.
  5. Cornwall, UK: No Fairy World Tour would be complete without a trip to Cornwall. There are countless places to search for little people here—the whole county is steeped in magic. My favorite is St Nectan’s Glen near Tintagel. You won’t see fairy houses, but you might just see orbs of light, so have your camera ready!

Want to read more about St Nectan’s Glen and Cornwall? Read my novel Trouble Brewing, which is set in many fabulous places, Cornwall included.

A psychic predicted my books


A powerful psychic predicted my novel, Forecast, a decade before I wrote it. She also predicted that I’d use her name in it, although 
I didn’t know that until years later, in a letter that came to me after she died.

I grew up in a small town on the NSW north coast. My mother was a nurse at the local hospital and most afternoons after school, I would head there and wait for her to finish her shift.

Rowie, a clairvoyant, was a regular patient. All the nurses would pop by and ask her questions.

“Yes you’ll have a baby.”

“I know he’s a worry but he’s a teenager. There’s a girl he’ll meet. She’ll straighten him out.”

“I’m sorry dear but he’s two-timing you.”

Now and then Rowie would buzz for a nurse and announce that the Angel of Death had arrived. “It’s for old Mrs Smith in 205.”

She was never wrong.

My mother and Rowie were particularly close. Psychic phenomena never unnerved us like it does some people. In fact, we live with it ourselves. We often have dead relatives and friends drop by, and seeing someone’s aura is as normal to me as seeing their arms and legs. Rowie took us under her ample wing.

Later, when I moved overseas, I often phoned her to say hi and she’d end the conversation with something like, “When you apply for that new visa, don’t line up for the woman. There will be a man… line up there or you won’t get that visa.”

The last time I saw Rowena I was 23 and on a trip home to Australia. I now believe she knew we’d never cross paths again—not on this plane anyway—because she used the meeting to change the course of my life.

I’d always been interested in the occult, yet I’d never truly considered “Spirit.” I was unimpressed by organized religion. My religion teacher at school told me that ghosts didn’t exist, yet I saw them regularly. Was I crazy or was she wrong? I felt I had to choose between my ghosts and her God, so early on in life I chose what I knew.

I was completely floored when Rowie told me she had a deep faith in God. Here was a woman who could remember her past lives, who left her body each morning to communicate with her dead husband on the astral planes, who made a living from psychic readings telling me about her religious beliefs.

“You might not understand me now, but you will,” she said. “You’re going on a journey … you will discover Spirit and magic and God and how they are all one … and then, when it all comes together for you, you’ll write about it.”


“Stories … books.”

“About God? I’d rather pass kidney stones.”

“Not “God”, but your characters will be in close contact with Spirit. Like me.”

“It wasn’t that long ago that God botherers (yes, I actually said that) burnt people like you.”

“Only because we were closer to God than they were, my dear.”

“I’ll never be Christian.”

“Witch, Christian… called yourself a Marshmallow. It doesn’t matter.”

“It all sounds awfully serious, Row.”

“Oh no dear, make it funny,” she chuckled. “That’s the point.”

“Funny books about God?”

“Don’t use the word God if it makes you uncomfortable. I’m just telling you it’s all the same thing.”

“And when will I do this?”

Rowie shrugged. One day. You need to travel, study … and find your voice.”

I wasn’t convinced. “I don’t think you’re right about this one.”

“I’m always right.” She handed 
me an envelope. “Open this later.”

“Later today?”

“No … later. You’ll know when.”

Though curious, I tucked the envelope away in my mother’s house and returned overseas.

Rowie’s talk about God and magic being connected confused me. Could the two go hand in hand? It was a question that began to haunt me and set me on a lifelong path of spiritual investigation. It’s one I still walk today.

Rowie died while I was living in Vienna. My mother was with her and later told me how normal her passing was. I was surprised. Rowie had such a powerful connection to the other side that I’d expected it to really throw out the banners to welcome her home. I should’ve known better. She’d once teased me, “Stop expecting mystical marching bands. Spirit is subtle.”

By this time, I’d forgotten about the envelope. But I was writing. My spiritual search led me all around the world, to many teachers, and finally to a place where I trusted myself. Throughout it all, I wrote and wrote. My stories were about witches, mystics and psychics—eccentrics to some, but to me they were everyday people with strong spiritual beliefs and practices. It was coming together now.

I was living in New York when I wrote Forecast. I named my protagonist after my friend. My fictional Rowie is tiny with red hair. The real Rowie was much older, much larger, with long silver hair. But they share the same heart, and I feel it’s a small way of honoring the woman who had such a profound impact on my spiritual life.

When I eventually returned to live in Australia I unpacked some boxes at my mother’s and I found Rowena’s letter. It was 10 years after her death, and just after Forecast was first published. It took me a moment to realize what it was. And then nerves set in—what on earth was in there? Was it some profound prediction? A forecast of things to come? More spiritual lessons?

It was time to open it. Slowly I read Rowie’s letter…

I was right wasn’t I?

How’s the book? Did I get a mention?

God bless, dear.


R x

I turned it over… and over again. That was it? I laughed until I cried. Right? She was always right.

A difficult farewell–getting a new passport

A difficult farewell–getting a new passport

image from http://pinterest.com/pin/305752262171812090/

This article was published in The Sydney Morning Herald about 7 years ago. I am now roaring towards another passport expiry date, and all the heartache attached to that. :-)  

After ten years together, it’s time for me to move on. Memories good and bad come flooding back. A decade long journey together has come to an end. My passport is about to expire, and it’s a difficult farewell.

This is not my first passport. I’ve had a few. My first expired naturally, while my second was stolen in New York (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Then came a temporary passport, which travelled with me until I next returned to Australia. That’s where this one came into my life, on a hot January day in Brisbane.

There was no immediate connection between the little blue book and me. It was simply a document that helped me fulfil my passion for travelling. But now, ten years later, as I prepare to welcome a new passport and it’s fresh, stamp-free pages into my life, I realize that I’m extremely attached to my passport and what it represents. I don’t quite know how to move on. I’ve walked away from long-term boyfriends more easily.

My expiring passport is a symbol of freedom. It is packed with many stamps and countless memories. Ten of the thirteen years that I lived overseas are in that passport. It’s proof that I do know Tokyo like the back of my hand. It reminds me of that night in Taipei with the guy whose name I forget, but who had a motorbike, which we rode through a typhoon. It reminds me that I even went to Guam.

I got married and had my kids during this time. The proof is in the passport. But I was still wandering. There’s London, where we married, and there’s New York, where we lived with our oldest son. I scramble through the pages to Austria, and the trip where son No. 2 was conceived. A few months later, after I’d been beaten down by constant nausea, I got my re-entry stamp into Australia. Next to it lays one last stab at freedom: a stamp for Vanuatu. But that just brings back memories of morning sickness and exhaustion.

That was the last entry.

I stare at my old photo and compare it with the new one. There is no comparison and I’m compelled to run out and have a new headshot taken. I want to look like I did back in 1998: younger, carefree, edgy, full of life…thinner. I want some of that energy to imbibe the new document. My photo now reveals countless sleepless nights, stubborn baby weight that refuses to budge, the fact that I never have time for my hair. It screams marriage and motherhood, school runs and dirty nappies, annual package deals at a resort with a kids-club. It’s not me, and I’m scared to declare to any immigration officer that it is.

I remember what it was like to travel back in ‘98, and I grieve. Travel was so much easier then. I had no fear of terrorists. Bali meant beaches, not bombs. When I thought of the World Trade Center, I thought of Century 21 and great shopping. Now I think of the countless cards and poems that papered the area in the months after the towers collapsed. Wandering the world was once a stress-free existence for me, and I feel ripped off because that has changed. I yearn for those days. I do worry when I travel now, but I refuse to stop.

I’m having problems making decisions. I wage an internal battle: should I apply for an ordinary passport, or live in hope and tick the frequent traveller box? Is it still acceptable to put my mother down as my emergency contact?

And then there’s the new photo. I could use it and be haunted by that exhausted, puffy stare for the next decade, or I could hit the gym, diet and fast, find a decent hairdresser, actually use make-up and take another photo next week when I look fabulous again.

I curse the 1998 me. Didn’t I realize that my passport would expire right in the middle of my childbearing years? The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should provide a fifth option when asking what type of passport is required.

  “Yes, hello, I’d like to extend my current passport for the two year new-mother-period…Yes, that’s right, I haven’t slept in ages… yes, that’s right, I’m still a bit of a porker, but I intend to give up breastfeeding soon.”

I stand in line at the post office and face the inevitable. I need to reapply now as I have plans to travel next soon. In fact, I have grand plans for my new passport. The line moves slowly, giving me time to dream. New Zealand, Japan, and then back to Europe. I picture my sons with me in Thailand, Hawaii… Estonia. There are so many places I want to take them, so many people I want them to meet, so little time before they go off on their own.

I make my way to the counter and hand the application to a smiling woman.

“Going somewhere?”

I feel the chains of routine slacken slightly. “Always.”

I leave the post office feeling excited. The new photo isn’t so bad after all. In ten years, when I’m applying for my next passport, I will look at it fondly and see the rounded softness of motherhood, and how a few extra kilos really does smooth out wrinkles. I will trawl through the ink-filled pages and remember the thrill of showing my children the world. And I will no doubt ponder the importance of living every moment fully, as I take possession of a passport that will eventually be filled with solo journeys again, as my sons come of age and embark on their own.

This current me, and all the excess baggage, is the one I will travel with for the next ten years, and that’s okay. Although, if it really does become too much to deal with, it can always go missing in New York… just like last time.