Why I’ll Always Backup My Work From Now On

Last week I got robbed and stranded at the beach wearing only a bikini a couple of sizes too small, then this week my computer died.

Me and My Gorgeous Geek

Me and My Gorgeous Geek

That’s right, one minute I was typing away happily and the next minute the screen froze and the computer refused to restart, even when I got my clever geek, and husband, on to it. Unfortunately I hadn’t backed up at all and I’ve had the computer almost a year.

Okay, I had backed up my 65,000 word manuscript by emailing it to myself at my gmail account, but what about all those amazing stories, articles-in-the-making, ideas and writing tips that I’d built up over that time? All gone and never to be seen again according to the geek, who smuggly reminded me that he had bought me a little memory stick and I should have used it.

In the end my wonderul geek, who I love more than anything, managed to recover all my work, but not before a few hot tears had been shed, mainly by me. Then I had to use the kid’s computer but Facebook and Twitter were banned by the clever anti-filth detector, K9 Web Protection Services, even though I wasn’t trying to look at any filth. I promise.

My geek claimed he couldn’t remember the password so I couldn’t access my two favourite websites, but when I started shaking, hallucinating and mumbling incoherently from the cold turkey he found the password for me. I didn’t realise how bad my addiction was until my online social networking fix was denied me.

So folks, the message is back up your work daily. At least. And just in case that fails get yourself a good geek. They are truly indispensible in this digital age and every creative type should have one. Mine is versatile too. He also makes bonny babies and can be quite funny at times. Plus he’s a dab hand at gardening, cooking and finances and exceedingly handsome too, so I’m a very lucky lady. I will have to be nice to him for ages now but really, he’s worth it.

We all need a bit of help and support in our daily lives and I’d love to hear who your everyday hero or heroine is.

Two, four, six, eight, who do you appreciate?

Good luck with all your plans!


Daylight Robbery, Little Cove, Noosa

Watch Out Watch Out! There’s a Thief About In Noosa

I’ve been feeling a bit lonesome this week. I’m now six months into my new life in Australia and I think anyone who’s moved overseas will know this feeling: the newness of being in a foreign country has passed and it’s still too early to have made good friends so there’s a gap that needs to be filled.

A surf with my surfer chick buddies-in-the-making was just what the doctor ordered. So when the rain cleared up to reveal sunny blue skies, the famous Noosa surf points were pumping and the surfer chicks were up for it, life looked good.

I have to confess I was a bit out of kilter. For example, I thought it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, but there’s nothing too unusual about that is there? After racing through my work and finding an elusive parking spot close to Little Cove where we’d arranged to meet, I realised I’d forgotten my board shorts. But nothing was going to stop me from surfing. At this point I should clarify that I was wearing a bikini and had my wetsuit top with me but the bikini bottoms are absolutely tiny and normally I wouldn’t be seen out in them unless they were under my board shorts. Basically, they’re completely unsuitable for surfing and the two tiny triangles of material barely covered my ample writer’s bottom.

The Show Must Go On

Still, undeterred, I knotted them on as tightly as possible, grabbed my board and headed out into the surf at Little Cove. There was no sign of my friends but I thought they might already be out in the surf so I left my bag carefully on a rock well above the high tide mark. This is a bag I got free with a magazine. Inside it was a t-shirt, a rash top, a dweeby surf hat that buckles under the chin, a pair of super cheap sunglasses from Costa Rica and my keys. That’s right, my car keys and my house keys which are both those new-fangled remote control keys that are fiendishly expensive to replace, all coupled together with one of my most prized possessions: a gorgeous wooden key ring with a painted toucan and the inscription Costa Rica. A lot of happy memories are tied up in that keyring and I truly love it.

Now, I count myself as being fairly savvy and would never leave any valuables unattended on the beach. As proof of how streetwise I like to think I am I should add that I recently spent 18 months traveling round Central America with 11 bags and not a thing was stolen from me during that time. 11 bags? I know, it sounds ridiculous but it was minimalist traveling for a famly of five and included a complete homeschool kit for three children as well as enough books to keep them all on track with their reading goals for a year.

You Little Ripper

But back to the Noosa surf. Down at Little Cove there was an flood of surfers walking, running and sprinting up the beach to get into the sea further north.

“Gosh.” I thought.
“I wonder where they’re all going.”

But being a complete novice I didn’t study the conditions much, apart from checking that the waves weren’t too big, and I didn’t notice the fierce rip that was pulling surfers south around the rocks to Noosa Main Beach. Until I got waist deep into the sea that is.

Suddenly, the rip was so strong that I was unable to stand in one place so I hopped on my board and caught the first wave that came my way. My pop up was slow and clumsy but hey, I was standing up and surfing, rushing in towards the beach. When the wave petered out I started paddling back towards the breaking waves to try again. At first I noticed I was just paddling on the spot and no sooner had that dawned on me than I realised I was being pulled backwards and quickly towards some rocks where bigger waves were breaking, and then around the corner to First Point where approximately 200 surfers were all milling around. This all happened exceedingly fast and probably less than five minutes had passed since I got into the sea.

“I’m being swept away.” I shouted to a bearded surfer nearby. He just shrugged and ignored me, too busy trying to save his own bacon I suppose.
“I’m trying to get to the shore.” I said to another.
“You’ll be right.” he said. Australians always say this and it’s very reassuring. Sure enough, he was right.

If At First You Don’t Suceed Try, Try, Try Again

Although I thought I was about to die I put on a paddling spurt and got to the shore, overjoyed to be alive. Now I joined the surfers climbing back over the rocks and walking back up the beach for another go. Yes, I’ve been taught that if you fall off your horse the best thing to do is get back on it and have another go.

So I did and I had a few nice rides too despite the dodgy conditions. At some point I noticed I’d forgotten to take my earrings out and one was missing but nothing was going to get me down after my near-death experience. My friends turned up and we had a surf together before heading back to the beach.

It was then that I realised my bag was missing, along with one of my shoes which I’d placed on top of the bag on top of a rock. So annoying. Why would a thief steal one shoe? And, presuming the culprit was male, what would he want with a few well-used pieces of ladies clothing? Perhaps most annoying of all was that I was now stranded at the beach with no car keys and clad only, in the world’s most revealing bikini.

Super Sleuth

Despite this I’m proud to say that I kept my cool and drew on my knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of reading trashy crime thrillers. Yes, thanks to a love of literature of all kinds, I am well-versed in many aspects of criminal profiling and criminal psychology. My expert analysis told me that this was a crime of opportunity committed by a young, and possilby itinerant, person who was hoping to get their grubby mitts on some cash, credit cards, a decent camera, an ipod or at the very least a complete pair of shoes, not just one beaten up sandal that’s been roughed up all over Central America.

In view of the fact that the loot held limited value for the crim (unless s/he was a one-legged tootsie with size ten feet) my guess was that the robber would be feeling pretty annoyed with the pile of crap they’d risked their clean record for and would probably chuck the entire contents of the bag in the nearest rubbish bin or bush.

Another young lady had also had her bag stolen so I left her to look after my surf board and went on a bin trawl. Now, despite being a country bumpkin, I’ve lived in big cities before and I’ve seen people, mainly bearded and ragged men, rifling through bins for sustenance. The middle-class demograhic means there aren’t many people doing it in the Noosa area though, and either my strange behaviour coupled, my scanty attire or a combination of those things attracted a fair bit if attention.

To make things even more pitiful Noosa has these really posh bins with a roof on so in order to see what’s inside you have to poke your head under the roof and over to the middle to even get a peep inside. If you actually wanted to get something out you’d have a hard job. Hmmm, maybe that’s why people don’t bother doing it.

There’s a Moral Here Somewhere

I wish I could say that there was happy ending to this story and that my bag and its contents, or at least my keys, turned up in a bin or under a bush but sadly that’s not the case. I came away feeling slightly nauseaous from the fumes of cigarette butts and fish and chips wrappers but alas empty handed.

So if you ever see a strange semi-clad lady rifling through the bins in an upmarket location don’t avert your eyes and cross the street, take pity and offer her a lift home. It could be me.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

A Winters Weekend in Noosa, Queensland

It May Be Winter But It’s Not Wintry

It’s almost mid-winter here in Queensland but we’re still getting out in the water and enjoying our new stand up paddle board. It’s perfect for exploring the canals and rivers of Noosa while getting a bit of exercise and the kids like playing round on it too. The weather was picture perfect all week and I even surfed so I still hold onto the title of crummiest surfer in Noosa, even if I did have to wear a wetsuit top.

On Sunday we went to the River Festival, organised by the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club. I have to say that the Noosa River is definitely somewhere I’d like to spend more time and well worth celebrating, so celebrate we did. The kids fished, had a go on a bungy trampoline, got their faces painted and ran wild on the bouncy castle.

Then we went to Doonan, about ten minutes inland from Noosa, for the Steiner Children’s Festival. Doonan is a leafy enclave with gorgeous trees and big views from some places. There were heaps of fun things for the kids to do like a gem hunt, carpentry, making a sword, pony rides, a flying fox and a juggling show.

This is our weekend in pictures. Don’t get jealous, get over here. For life would be truly perfect if only we had some friends to enjoy all this with. Enjoy the photos.

Stand Up Paddling in Noosa Waterway

Stand Up Paddling in Noosa Waterway

Handsome man stand up paddling

Handsome male stand up padde surfer, Noosa

Face-painting Frenzy on the Noosa River

Face-painting Frenzy on the Noosa River

Lovely Little Hippy Chicky

Lovely Little Hippy Chicky

Fishing in the Noosa River

Fishing in the Noosa River

Hooked Sting Ray in the Noosa Waterways

Hooked Sting Ray in the Noosa Waterways

Forget Venice, take a gondala trip down the Noosa Canals

Forget Venice, take a gondala trip down the Noosa Canals

Flocking to the Children's Festival at the Steiner School in Doonan

Flocking to the Children's Festival at the Steiner School in Doonan

Juggling Act, kept all the balls in the air and was funny too

Juggling Act, kept all the balls in the air and was funny too

Shaggy Dog Story From the RSPCA, Noosa

Dogs Love Noosa Too

Controversial Dog in Booties

Controversial Dog in Booties

Australia has one of the highest levels of dog ownership in the world, and one Noosa resident told me that I wouldn’t be a local myself until I got a dog. So I was naturally interested in the ‘Champ Pooch of the Day’ event that was held last Sunday by the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). They tried to keep it a secret from me, but I noticed a stream of people and dogs of all shapes and sizes parading along the Noosa river and just had to find out what it was all about.

Dog in a Bag

Dog in a Bag

Thank heavens I didn’t miss out on the doggy fun. There were all kinds of competitions being held. The biggest dog contest was a sure win for the lone Great Dane entrant. The smallest dog contest was practically a support group for nominees for the Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves website. For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure, check it out. It’s most reassuring to find other people who think that a bull dog wearing a tight polo shirt is tragic, not cute.

I’m happy to say the RSPCA doesn’t condone dressing pets up in clothes either, and the canine winner for smallest dog took it down clad only in its natural fur coat. Good news, even if it was one of those trembling dogs with a really hard to spell name that fashionable girls like to keep in their handbags.

Pampered Costa Rican Cat

Pampered Costa Rican Cat

But my favourite contest, and the most fiercely contested category, was the “Owner and Dog Most Lookalike Contest”. The winner went to a Jack Russel and his short-haired, pointy-faced, wet-nosed owner. They were almost indistinguishable from each other so congratulations to the undisputed champs.

They didn’t have official contests for these categories but I also identified the hottest dog, the smelliest dog, the dog with the largest testicles and the owner who was most in denial that she looked like her dog. This sounds means but it was just the shaggy orange hair. Hey, maybe I could help with the judging next year or reinvent myself as a canine talent scout.

I hope you like these photos I took for the Pets That Want to Kill Themselves website. They’ve got loads of pics of desperate pets and it’s worth checking out if you need a laugh and don’t mind a teeny bit of cruelty to animals. We certainly don’t. Here’s a photo of one of our long suffering kittens in Costa Rica if you want the proof.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Give Fear the Finger and Feel Fine

Inspiration for Overcoming Fear

OK, I confess, when it comes to giving fear the finger it’s not all plain sailing. When people ask me what I do, I want to tell them I’m a writer, but often I chicken out.

“I’m doing some writing at the moment.” I’ll say, looking shifty. So I’m definitely still battling that fear of failure, the fear of ridicule.

Celebrate Your Successes

In other aspects of my life fear has been easier to overcome:

> I moved to Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Laos and Panama when I’d never even visited those countries before.
> I studied interactive media when I hardly knew how to use a computer.
> I insisted on a home birth with my second child even though the first one was born by emergency caesarian and weighed in at 10lb 12oz (Ouch).
> Then I had a home birth with my third child even though my second baby weighed 11lb 1oz (Not sure if that’s brave or just plain mad).
> More recently, I learned to surf at 40 (I may be the world’s worst surfer, still, I have fun.)

But being and saying I’m a writer is much scarier than all of those. Maybe the fear is strongest for the things you want most. But my greatest fear of all though is of regrets, of dying without having achieved my dreams or even trying to tackle them.

I’m glad I gave fear the finger – I’ve so much happier now.

Thanks for reading, feel free to tell me your dreams, fears and inspirations. I dare you to join me in the hot spot.

Good luck with all your plans!

Give Fear the Finger For Good

How to Overcome Fear of Change

Still feeling scared? Try this quick experiment.

First ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you do overcome your fears and follow your dream.

Then ask yourself what will happen if you let fear rule you and stick with the life you’ve got right now.

Well, I envisaged a life tinged with regret, bitterness and sadness if I chose the second alternative, and frankly that scared me more. It helped me overcome my fears and I hope it’ll work for you too.

Face Your Fears and Feel Fabulous

Facing your fears makes you feel confident, proud and indomitable. It’s true, you may not succeed in achieving your goal 100% but at least you’ll have tried and some good will come from that.

So join me, in my literary run with the wolves: pick your dream, feel the fear and, as Susan Jeffer’s book says, do it anyway. If you want to move overseas but are scared, if you want to change careers but are worried, whatever you want, don’t let fear get the better of you. Put yourself in the hot spot, tell the world what you want to do and start planning how to do it.

Oh, and if you’re not quite sure what exactly it is you want to do yet, fear not, I’ll write down a few ideas to help you come up with that soon.

Overcoming Fear Right Here

Just so you know I’m walking the talk, my first ‘Give Fear the Finger’ post about how to overcome fear attracted 75 visitors for two days running, my most successful blogging days so far. Now I only need another 925 people to visit each and every day and I will have achieved my goal. Yes, I am smiling here!

Thanks so much for visiting, I hope you had fun. Feel free to tell anyone else who’d enjoy it about In the Hot Spot. But most of all, take the first step in overcoming your fears: be brave and tell people what your goal is. You could start now by adding a comment below and telling me and the 74 other people who will be cheering you on.

Thanks again for reading, and good luck with all your plans!

Give Fear the Finger, and Live the Life You Want

There’s one major hurdle that stops us from achieving our dreams. Fear. In particular, the fear of failure.

Don't be chicken

Don't be chicken

Life can get off track if you let fear make your decisions for you. At least, it did for me. When, at that crucial age during the final teenage years, I was asked to decide what job I’d like when the real business of life began, I told my parents I wanted to be a writer. This wasn’t a job the school career adviser picked for me, and it wasn’t generated by a careers computer program, it was just something I knew. I knew because when I was at primary school during art classes, I always asked if I could write a poem or song instead of drawing. I knew because in secondary school I loved writing weekly essays for my English class more than anything else. I just knew.

Trust Your Inner Voice

But unfortunately my parents did not know and, in their best efforts to cushion their little girl from disappointment, they put me off writing. They frowned and said that writing was a very hard field to get in to, an extremely competitive business. The sub-text was that I wasn’t good enough to succeed in it.

So I did other things. I was a student, a teacher, a magazine editor and an Internet developer, but in each of these jobs the thing I enjoyed most, the thing I was best at was reading, researching and writing. And I still wanted to be a writer. Although, I was already writing I dreamed of writing full time, I wanted to write more creatively and I wanted to write a novel.

Dare to Follow Your Dreams

But fear held me back for years. Maybe I wasn’t good enough? Maybe people would laugh at my work? Maybe my writing would be boring, trite, pathetic or just plain bad. Eventually I realised that there was only one way to find out and that’s to write, to let people read it and see what they think. So here I am. Now, more than 20 years after I was dissuaded from being a writer, I’m finally back on track.

As part of my self-prescribed aversion therapy I write a blog for all the world to read, and so far the feedback has been good. No one has complained about my writing, though a few people have disagreed with my ideas. (Unbelievable, I know!) I’m also well on my way to finishing my first novel. I’ve already written 60,000 words and I plan to finish it this month. Of course after that I still have a lot of work ahead of me: I’ll have to rewrite it, polish it, edit it, find an agent and, with luck, a publisher. Maybe it won’t ever get published but, if that’s the case, I’ll get over it. Because the thing is I feel truly happy with my life now. I’m doing what I always wanted to do: writing. I’m doing what I’m best at and what I love. Finally, I am a writer.

Overcome Your Fears Today

So the moral is, if you know what your dreams are then, follow through on them. We don’t live forever and time is of the essence. Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving what you want to in life!

Come on, let’s give fear the finger together.

Thanks for reading, feel free to tell me your dreams, fears and inspirations. I dare you to join me in the hot spot.

Good luck with all your plans!