CourageThe Sea is MeI write in the lounge room, in my bedroom, at the dining table, at the cafe, at the library, on the train, sitting outdoors, sitting indoors, swinging in the hammock, and very, very occasionally in my designated writing space, aka our study. The main reason for this being that the study is directly off our kitchen/lounge area, which is often busy and noisy.  However, I admit that I can’t access my preferred brain food – hot chocolate and/or cake – so readily from my study, hence the local cafes all know me well. Sometimes I prefer quiet surroundings, while at other times I like writing with a hubbub of people around me. I have fantasies about a studio – a room of my own, with wall-to-wall bookcases, and inspirational images and quotes all over the walls. However, while I’m working on that I have found that good things can come out of being nomadic – sometimes my location, the weather, or something I witness can really influence a scene.

Pictured are a few things in my study that are there to inspire me, in life and in writing.

Unbroken Spirit

Unbroken Spirit by Alison Dearborn

And now on to my fellow writers, Annabel Smith, Emma Chapman, Dawn Barker, Amanda Curtin and Natasha Lester. Can you guess which writer I’m referring to below? Visit their blogs to find out more!

PWFC author collage

Which writer has a beautiful new studio decorated with Florence Broadhurst wallpaper? Find out here.

Which writer wrote her first novel in the domed reading room at the State Library of Victoria? Find out here.

Which writer likes to bake with loud music on to get her into the zone? Find out here.

Which writer has crayons and a fairy doll on her desk? Find out here.

Which writer’s studio was once the storeroom of a shop? Find out here.





CBTM SB collageThere are a range of special offers going on this weekend, online and offline, to celebrate Mother’s Day:

Come Back to Me is FREE all weekend on and for international readers. (Offer starts 12 am Pacific Standard Time on 11 May and ends 11.59 pm Pacific Standard Time on 12 May.)

Shallow Breath is down to $4.99 on and for international readers.

FREE Postage Australia-wide from gorgeous independent bookshop Beaufort St Books in Mount Lawley, Perth, and they are offering Come Back to Me FREE when you buy Shallow Breath, and will even throw in wrapping. Call 08 6142 7996 or visit them at 567 Beaufort Street.

Buy Shallow Breath in WA at Dymocks Hay Street, Dymocks Morley, Dymocks Joondalup or Dymocks Karrinyup, and get Come Back to Me FREE.

Books are also on sale Australia-wide on my website store.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.



Dear MumI was delighted to contribute to this gorgeous little book, full of Australian writers’ and personalities’ letters to their mums. Having read quite a few of the contributions, I can tell you that there are letters to warm your heart and a few that will move you to tears. It’s a great Mother’s Day present, and what’s more, all the royalties go to the Royal Breast Cancer Foundation – so you can treat mum and support a worthy cause at the same time.

Here’s the full blurb:

In this wonderful collection of letters from celebrities to their mothers, Australian sporting stars, musicians, models, cooks and famous authors reveal what they would like to say to their mothers before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance.

From Kaz Cooke to Kate Ceberano, Anna Meares to Reg Mombassa, Julie Goodwin to Matt Preston, Di Morrissey to Jessica Watson, Australian personalities celebrate their mothers in a unique and heart-warming way.

Their letters range from the deeply moving to the downright hilarious, from the quirky to the sentimental, but each offers a rare insight into the personal lives of our favourite celebrities and the special relationship they have with their mother.col-md-2

13.04 Giveaway Collage

Many congratulations to Jess Fitzpatrick, winner of the 12-book giveaway held recently in collaboration with writers Natasha Laster, Annabel Smith, Amanda Curtin, Dawn Barker and Emma Chapman. Hope you enjoy the books, Jess! It’s been great fun hosting the giveaway, so if you missed out this time then I’ll keep you posted on more in the future.col-md-2

CBTM SB collageIn the following couple of weeks you’ll find various specials going on for Come Back to Me and Shallow Breath:

1) Beaufort St Books are offering free postage Australia-wide, and Come Back to Me for free, if you buy a copy of Shallow Breath. Find they at or call 08 6142 7996.

2) Various stores around WA – including Dymocks Joondalup, Dymocks Morley and Dymocks Hay St – are offering Come Back to Me for free when you buy a copy of Shallow Breath.

3) I’m looking into online promotions for the books, which I hope to run next week.  Stay tuned!col-md-2

DolphinThe Indian Ocean on Sunday was cold enough to steal your breath, but we barely noticed. For the fourth time in my life I had the privilege of swimming with dolphins in their own environment – on this occasion with Rockingham Wild Encounters. There are approximately 200 dolphins in the area, and every day the boat sets out to find them. If they are lucky enough to come across a group willing to socialise, tourists enter the water in small groups and form chains by holding onto each other’s weight belts, while being towed along. This calm entry and relaxed behaviour in the water causes minimal disturbance, and the dolphins respond enthusiastically, swimming close enough that I was half expecting to feel the hefty flick of a fin or tail. There is a ‘no touching the dolphins’ rule on the tour – stipulated because skin contact can pass on harmful bacteria. However, this also means is that these dolphins are used to humans who keep a respectful distance, and as a result they are prepared to come much nearer, and even bring their young close too. At one stage on Sunday we had nine dolphins around us – and a dolphin even stopped and ‘buzzed’ me – just like Nicky the dolphin does to Desi in Shallow Breath (and if you’ve read the book you’ll know what that means!)

They stayed and swam with us on Sunday because they wanted to – there was no feeding, no tank walls, no training or tricks. When they’d had enough they moved on, and we got back on the boat and tried to find another group who might want to play. We saw them nursing, playing, rooting in the sand for prey, and swimming as a pod, the mothers and aunties hovering protectively over the youngsters. It was beautiful. As always, while in the water with them I briefly forgot everything else.

A dolphin’s use of echolocation gives them a kind of X-ray vision. They can see right through us. Scientists are still examining exactly what they might see, but perhaps it’s more interesting to note what they won’t see. They don’t see us driving our cars, building houses and cities or destroying them. They don’t see the shopping malls, the skyscrapers, our artwork, our aeroplanes, our space rockets, or our televisions. They know nothing of the world wide web. What they might see is an ungainly group of visitors, who can’t hope to match their graceful silhouettes, who breathe heavily through plastic snorkels. Masters of their own environment, they can see right through us.

The dolphins on Sunday reminded me of exactly why I wrote Shallow Breath.




Want to the chance to win 12  – yes, TWELVE! – books? Win all 12 fiction titles written by myself, Natasha Lester, Emma Chapman, Dawn Barker, Amanda Curtin and Annabel Smith.

Just click on the books to join in – good luck! (Books posted to Australian and UK addresses only.)


13.04 Giveaway Collage



This is my first post as part of a new collaborative venture with five other fantastic Perth-based writers, in a series we’ve called Writers Ask Writers. Each month we’ll be sharing our thoughts and experiences on the same topics, beginning with our writing process. However, before I get on to that, let me introduce you to the others:


PWFC author collage


Dawn Barker is the author of the widely praised novel Fractured, which was published earlier this year by Hachette. She is currently hard at work on her second book.

Emma Chapman’s first novel, How to Be a Good Wife, has already  been published in the UK and Australia and sold in the US and and across Europe. It has received extensive praise, including a fantastic endorsement by Hilary Mantel!

Amanda Curtin has won numerous awards for her fiction and short fiction, and is the author of a collection of short stories, Inherited, and two novels, The Sinkings and Elemental (the latter will be on sale in seven days – and Amanda is busy counting down with teasers on her blog!)

Natasha Lester won the TAG Hungerford award for her first novel, What is Left Over, After, and released her second book, If I Should Lose You, late last year.

Annabel Smith is the author of two novels, Whisky Charlie Foxtrot and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the West Australian Premier’s Book Awards. Her third novel, The Ark, will be released as an interactive digital app later this year.

Writing is often a solitary business so it is a pleasure to be part of this group, and I am already learning a lot from them. You’ll find links to their thoughts on their own writing processes at the bottom of this post, but now I will move on to telling you about mine…


Oh how I wish it were that easy to reflect on my writing process! I remember hearing of a very well-known children’s author who every day, without fail, writes 500 new words and edits the words written the previous day. I lust after the idea of such a structured way of working, but in my semi-chaotic life it rarely happens.

Come Back to Me, my first novel, was written over four years, back when there was no pressure of a deadline. Even then I needed to take a three-month hiatus from my day job as a book editor to really tackle and finish the story. Beneath the Shadows was the first time I’d had a deadline and I also had a new baby by my side, so a combination of adrenalin and terror saw that one through. It was also during this time that Come Back to Me was published, and people asked questions about my ‘writing process’ for the first time. So it was really only at this point that I began to reflect on it.

There are things I have always done as a writer. I have always had ideas in the middle of the night, while sipping coffee at the shops, or on a long journey – those times when my mind has been a little less crowded with the other affairs of the day. I call them ‘snippets’ – they might be a phrase, a word, something to research, the beginnings of a scene – and I write them down immediately and try to file them appropriately so that I can come back to them. Other than that, I usually hold a story in my head for quite a long time without  making any formal attempt to write it down. During this time I’m getting to know the different characters, looking at the plot, and basically seeing if this concept is strong enough to gain a hold on me. One thing I don’t have a problem with is ideas for stories – but although they come to me regularly, not all of them are enticing enough for me to want to chase them down and capture them on the page. So I like to let things sit and settle before I write.

Chapter planning for Shallow Breath with stylish pink Post-Its!

Chapter planning for Shallow Breath with stylish pink Post-Its!

Life ALWAYS gets in the way of writing! Sometimes I let it, because I don’t want to be too obsessive and because my books often develop nicely, and in unexpected ways, while I’m doing other things. However, during this time the core of my story is growing in my mind, like a bubble, and when I feel the pressure of it increasing I know it’s time to sit down, let everything else take a back seat, and start to write. This all sounds very organic – however, it’s not so easy when there’s a publishing contract and a big X on the calendar marking the deadline for Draft 1. So, if it feels like it’s taking too long to start writing, I speed this process up by researching.

Researching a novel is, for me, one of the greatest joys of writing. I want to try to live in my story as much as possible, which means getting inside the heads of the characters, and visiting the locations of my story – in person if I can, otherwise through books and movies, online clips and everything else I can find. Researching a book leads me towards experiences I would never otherwise have, and the opportunity to learn and observe life outside my own little sphere is a blessing, opening my mind even when what I’m looking at is difficult or traumatic – as it sometimes was with Shallow Breath.  At times it’s very hard to let the research go and start the story, and with Shallow Breath it required a short period of adjustment to release myself from an avalanche of factual information and get back to my characters’ lives. However, researching a book means I’m always learning about my topic, and gaining new ideas on where I might go with my story.

Once I’ve begun to write those terrible first drafts, I use what I call a ‘building block’ process. This means that when I have written chapter 2, I return to chapter 1 and read the whole thing together to see how it works. I do this all the time, going back over sections or sometimes the whole book, shoring up the foundations of the story as I go, so that I probably read chapter 1 many more times over than I do the final chapter. This doesn’t make my story finished when I get to the end of the first draft, but it does make the sometimes arduous editing stage a little easier. Along the way I’m usually checking all those snippets to see what might fit with the story, or inserting sections I might have written out of order because they were particularly assertive and just wouldn’t wait their turn.

Finally, with deadlines there is little time to get caught up with writer’s block, but that doesn’t stop me from getting stuck. When that happens I go back to planning – I record the outlines of each chapter on a document and try to figure out why I’ve fallen into a fug – because getting stuck is usually a signal to me that the story has gone off track. Writing became a lot easier when I realized I didn’t have to fear these moments, because writing the wrong words might ultimately point me in the right direction.

So, now you know a little more about how I work, check out what the others have to say – I found it fascinating to see how we’re similar in some aspects but very different too.

‘The most important thing for me when I write is knowing that I won’t be interrupted, even if that’s only for an hour.’ Read about Dawn Barker’s writing process here.

‘I imagine I am looking at the book through the eyes of someone I admire: a favourite writer or my agent, and ask myself what they would say about each scene, each sentence.’ Read about Emma Chapman’s writing process here.

Process seems to imply a series of steps—linear, organised, focused. What I do is more spidery than that. And it’s been different for each work, although there are threads common to all.’ Read about Amanda Curtin’s writing process here.

‘I try not to edit at all when I’m writing a first draft. I need to get the draft out, fill in the flesh of the story and not slow myself down by polishing words and sentences until they shine like little nuggets of gold. That can happen later, in the redraft.’ Read about Natasha Lester’s writing process here.

‘I may begin with a single scene in mind, a setting, a character. I don’t research, or make notes, or even spend time imagining. I simply sit down and begin writing and see where the story leads.’ Read about Annabel Smith’s writing process here.