Homeward Bound








Our family is on the move. My partner, Ben, is being transferred to Melbourne, Australia early in the new year, and we are packing up and heading down under. For those of you who don’t know, this will be a homecoming for me, as I am an Aussie born and bred. Melbourne, however, will be a new home city for both of us, which is part of its appeal – discovering it together. I will be cheating a little, as I have several friends there I have known for 20+ years; I am very excited about being able to see them on a regular basis.  And Melbourne was named the most livable city in the world for the second year running!

Things I will miss about Seattle:

  • All the people we have come to know and love.
  • Not seeing all the new babies arrive and/or grow up. : (
  • Restaurant month(s). 3 courses for $30 is awesome.
  • Happy Hours – not as popular in Australia (boo).
  • Dogs. Every other person has a dog here – in the city – and I just love their little faces.
  • Mt Ranier, the Sound and other stunning views.
  • Fall leaves.
  • $16 pedicures.
  • Politeness. Even the homeless are polite in Seattle.
  • Customer service. It is really good most places, including the grocery store.
  • Woodhouse winery in Woodinville. So good.
  • Dinner club.

Things I will not miss about living in Seattle:

  • The traffic.
  • The grey.
  • The trash and cigarette butts on the street.

Things I am looking forward to about life in Melbourne:

  • Buying a bike. Melbourne is basically flat and has lots of bike trails.
  • Being close enough for family and friends in other cities to visit on (long) weekends. Aussies are happy to take a cross-country flight to visit someone.
  • Long weekends. There are lots, including two within two months of our arrival – Australia Day long weekend at the end of January and Easter, which is 4 days off at the end of March.
  • Great coffee pretty much everywhere.
  • Drivers who can drive and awesome public transit.
  • Better weather than Seattle. Melbourne is the same latitude as San Francisco, so similar to that.
  • Traveling within Victoria and beyond, especially the wine regions, south-east Asia, Tasmania, New Zealand and the Great Ocean Road.
  • Starting a dinner club.
  • Launching the next phase of my career.
  • The shoe shopping is world-class.

Keep you posted on the departure date…

My Inner Warrior

We started watching The Mindy Project when it began airing this fall. I’m enjoying the fast-paced, self-deprecating humor. And Kaling is clever, sassy and cute, which works well for the style of the show.

In this week’s episode, one of the guys Mindy works with teaches her some prison wisdom; he encourages her to name her inner warrior and call on her whenever Mindy needs to source her inner strength. Later in the episode, we learn the name of Mindy’s inner warrior, Beyonce Pad Thai.


I immediately wanted to name my inner warrior, pausing the episode to consider what she would be called. In my head she looks like a combination of Zoe from Firefly:








and this warrior woman I found online:








So, maybe something like this:








For those of you who missed that Firefly is awesome, Zoe is kick-ass. She’s cool under pressure, a formidable soldier, and most men are terrified of her, including her husband and her captain. I liked this second image, because firstly, she is fully-clad, which is more than I can say for many of her contemporaries. Also, she is regal, has a sword, which she clearly knows how to use, and she coordinates well with her steed.  The final woman warrior is “…the eponymous Artesia of Dara Dess, a warrior-queen, witch, spirit-walker and former concubine…” (tvtropes.org). That is some kind of resume. I like that she has skills in multiple disciplines, plus she is leading an army of men, which I think speaks volumes for her credentials as a woman warrior.

My inner warrior certainly emerges from time to time. She does not suffer fools, is highly protective of her clan, and can silence the annoying, the dim and the fullhardy with a single look. She can be caustic and seductive, depending on what is called for, and she can paint an arrogant braggart into a metaphorical corner. She values loyalty, hard-work and accountability, and she has great hair and wears a pair of really tall, but comfortable boots.

Taking Mindy’s lead, I tried to add together the name of a long-admired woman and an Asian food. My first attempt was Anniston Kimchi.  Hmm.  Xena Spicy Salmon Roll?  Condoleezza Wasabi. Ooh, I like that!  I am still working on it, but I think I will have to abandon Mindy’s formula. Suggestions are welcome.

The Next Big Thing

I am cheating a little in posting this meme, as I was not tagged by the author who I follow via her blog, Charlotte’s Web, and that is part of the meme’s premise. That said, Charlotte Otter – a South African writer who lives with her family in Germany – has often inspired me to put pen to paper (‘finger to keyboard’ doesn’t quite sound right, does it?). I recommend checking out her blog, and when it is published, her novel. Simply, she is an exceptional writer.

This meme is timely for me, as I just submitted a well-honed draft of my book proposal to Jen and Kerry of the Business of Books for editing. They promise a return of the draft by December 1st and in the meantime I keep chipping away at the novel itself. I have been writing (almost) every day for two months now. Looking back over my calendar, I have only taken four ‘vacation’ days from writing, and I am benefiting greatly from the momentum. As Timothy McSweeney says in his Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do,  writing is a muscle. I am pleased to say that I am getting some decent mental biceps from the consistent writing. I should note that not everything I write is always literally gold, but that’s what revisions are for.

The idea of this is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” other writers to do the same. Then, the writer posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

So, here we go…

What is the working title of your book?

All Over the Map. Previous working titles have include The World Ate My Oyster and Desperately Seeking Sarah, but I like this latest one best. And it came about organically while I was discussing the plot with Ben. I said, “She’s all over the map – literally,” and we both paused taking it in. “That should be the title,” he said, simply. And I agree.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

A decade ago I wrote several drafts of a travel biography. One of the people I handed it to was Simonne Michelle-Wells, who said, “This should be a novel. You need to re-write this as fiction.” I resisted for years and then made a half-hearted effort to write it as a novel a couple of years ago. I came back to it with renewed love and determination this year. So, now it is a novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary women’s fiction. Some would say ‘chick lit’ which I am not adverse to. It is not a cutesy as quite a lot of chick lit, but it is a novel for and about women.

Which actors do you have in mind to play in the movie of your book?

I have a dear friend in Australia who is an exceptionally talented actress, Lisa Adam, and I have often pictured her as the protagonist, Sarah (who is an Aussie). I think this film would be cast with some fresh faces.

What’s the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I agree with Charlotte. This is hard.

Sarah, an Australian living in London, is devastated by the end of her seven-year relationship, and seeking a way to get on with her life, takes a job as a Tour Manager leading fellow travelers on tours around Europe.

(serious run-on sentence)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope to have it represented by an agency, hence the book proposal. There is a lot of merit in considering self-publication and I am studying up on that – just in case.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the novel?

The first draft of the travel biography, a few months – all hand-written. The first draft of the novel will take longer, as although there is good source material, I am inventing, amalgamating and re-crafting the tone and style. In the past two months I have drafted a third of the novel. This has included three total passes.

Which other books in this genre would you compare to your novel?

Marion Keyes, Maggie Alderson and Jennifer Weiner write novels that I’d like mine to sit next to in the bookstore.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My own experiences with a break-up, living in London and being a Tour Manager.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

Humor. I inject humor so as to reflect real life. Stories can’t be all misery, or all joy. Also, I am working especially hard on the characters. I want readers to recognize people they know from their own lives.

Who to tag?

Megs Thompson. I met her at the Whidbey Island Writers’ Retreat. She is dynamic and clever and I love the concept of the novel she is writing.

Simonne Michelle-Wells. I am not sure what Simonne is currently working on – she has been blogging quite a lot lately.

You’re it.