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Thoughts on writing romance novels about real 'live' people...

As a writer I’d like to be able to subscribe to certain people’s WhatsApp conversations, you know? I think they’d be great character studies… like imagine ...

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Why a staycation is better than going abroad (sometimes)

Deep in one of the world's most dangerous rainforests, I cast my eyes to the Colombian skies as my ass sagged into a river from ...

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A single girl's guide to Amsterdam's NEMO Science Museum

Check it out - a building that looks just like my love life. A giant, sinking ship. (Sigh). Yes, yes, the dating game's a drag ...

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View from Dubrovnik city wall

Croatia: Getting around in Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar

So, if you're here, you're probably looking for information on travelling to and around Croatia? You're in luck' because I just got back. I can only ...

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Remembering Yemen...

I never did make it to Syria unfortunately, but I did visit Yemen in 2008, which I'm thinking about now in the midst of this ...

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Christmas in Prague...

I just got back from Prague - another new city for me. I love nothing more than heading off to a new place and just ...

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Tinder Diaries: Getting my Groupon...

Shamus's profile shots scrolled like some kind of Action Man calendar. In one photo the 39-year-old Irish-Canadian was hugging a goat on what looked like ...

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Tinder Diaries: Tempur-Pedic promises...

And another Tinder Diary for you, this one's also from last year in Vancouver.  Tempur-Pedic promises... 'I got you a drink!!!' the text message yelled at me. ...

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Tinder Diaries: The Burner In The Park

In trawling through folders on my laptop for some old work I've just come across some diaries I wrote about Tinder dating last year in ...

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I go to the gym a lot. And other things I never thought I'd say...

Once in Sydney I joined a yoga studio for $350 a year and went once. In New York I spent close to $600 and went to ...

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Things you should probably know before going to Burning Man

So, Burning Man. Hmm. How was it, you ask? Honestly. I can't even really tell you yet, and it's been three weeks. But I'll try. As a ...

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11 things you only ever say on WhatsApp when you're going to Burning Man...

I LEAVE TOMORROW!! Am I ready? Probably not.  I'm what's known as a Virgin, (this will be my first time at Burning Man) and in ...

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Thoughts about rainbows...

I cycled home tonight right under a rainbow - the kind of rainbow that smiles across the sky in every colour, and then more colours ...

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How to tell when you travel too much (and when you should stop)

Yup. That's how. That's a screenshot my friend just sent me, when I told her to add my new phone number in Amsterdam. "Another one?!" "Yeah, but I'm ...

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…Best Of...

It started with a boy called Matt: why I'm going to Burning Man (in 2 weeks!!!)

Going to Burning Man has been pretty high on the bucket list for years... ever since I started chatting to an American guy online back in 2003, who ...

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The Royal's idea of 'Indian street kids' is not quite right

I know I shouldn't read the Daily Mail because it always annoys me... but today THIS was ridiculous. Honestly. Been to India? Yeah, so have I. Met ...

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How to write a novel: 25 rules

This post is so inspiring, just had to share! Thanks to Matt Haig, who posted it originally. Sometimes us writers really need to read cool stuff ...

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Amsterdam, I love you! See you again soon.

I've decided to move to Amsterdam. Maybe not forever but definitely for a little bit, because, well.... this. And this: And this:  OK maybe not the last one... ...

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Free tsunami romance for Valentine's Day...

Winner of the TBC (The Book Club) award for best non-fiction, 2016.  Hey guys, I'm giving away The Day Of The Wave over Valentine's weekend in ...

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How to Create Titles to Hook Your Readers

This post is written BY JUDITH BRILES posted on February 10, 2016 on The Book Designer Are you sometimes stuck when it comes to adding a title to ...

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Yay, I won an award!

It's a super duper awesome start to the new year, because after a long hiatus during which I've been working reeeeeeally hard and not blogging ...

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Who's the Mills and Boon Man Of The Year 2016? Get your face on a book cover!

Here ye, all you amazing men - and women who know amazing men! Thought I'd spread the word about this. Mills & Boon are launching ...

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Pills that make you poop glitter...

Oh my! We should give these to ALL the pigeons in London until the whole city is a sparkly rainbow! Granted we'd be covered in shit, ...

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Know your strengths...

I'm sitting in the cafe. It's just me, two loud ladies who sound like they're from Essex, and a blonde with her boyfriend. An Essex ...

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Humans of Iceland...

This is Sverrir and the replica of his great grandfather, who was once the pastor of the pretty and remote herring fishing town, Siglufjörður. He was ...

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Adventures in Iceland (in brief because I'm VERY remote right now and WIFI is scarce)...

It started when we flew Fokker. Yes, Fokker. Oh come on, tell me I'm not the only child who finds this funny? It wasn't long before ...

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NOW FREE ON AMAZON: The Day Of The Wave

A moving, emotional romance based on real-life events. NOW FREE ON AMAZON! The Day Of The Wave follows Isla and Ben in the wake of surviving ...

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***FREELANCE PHOTO - POSTMEDIA NETWORK USE ONLY*** VANCOUVER, BC.:JUNE 24, 2014-- Pedestrian traffic in front of Canna Clinic on Commercial Drive, in Vancouver, BC, June 24, 2014.  Canna Clinic at 2223 Commercial Drive, has a doctor from 5 to 8 p.m. every day. Locals can get certified by an in-house  naturopath, and pick up some pot.  (PHOTOS by Don MacKinnon)

Comedy night at the Canna Clinic...

Today I learnt two things. The first is that penguins have knees inside their bodies. Yes. Knees. Inside. I'm not even kidding. The second is that ...

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Spalding School Reunion is Imminent...

I got a message today about a school reunion for the class of 96. My first thought was JEEEEESUS, did I really leave school 19 ...

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Best things to see on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. OK, maybe not the best...

I was just eating my sushi on a restaurant patio last night when a man seemingly dressed as a Mario Brother climbed a nearby tree ...

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Oh Canada, how I LOVE being in you...

And I think these photos prove why! I'm so inspired the more time I spend here, which is Vancouver right now, in case you were ...

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Fun on the Natchez Trace - recreating scenes from a novel in real life!

Yesterday a friend and I drove from Nashville, out past the famous Loveless Cafe (where we stopped to pick up some Peach Preserve) and onto ...

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Read and review 'Before He Was Gone' and get a FREE copy!

The New Adult Book Club on Goodreads are reading Before He Was Gone to review. Sign up if you want your free copy to review! "Sometimes, ...

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RIP Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (an excerpt featuring their great work, from Balilicious)

How fuggin AWFUL to hear about the executions of these two men, and the others who were wiped out needlessly today in Indonesia. Don't people ...

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Boxing Day Tsunami book trailer (The Day of the Wave)

I made this today! One day I will give up trying to be a filmmaker (maybe), but it's SO satisfying when it uploads and I'm ...

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The Day of the Wave - Playlist

This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had putting a playlist together for a book. There were just so many great artists who inspired ...

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Aliens in the White House...

Just got a newsflash on my phone: 'Small one-person helicopter lands at White House West Lawn. Pilot in custody.' I know I should click on it ...

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Boxing Day Tsunami romance excerpt: (The Day of The Wave)

This is an excerpt from my latest new adult romance, coming May 2015. In brief... "Isla and Ben were just sixteen when the Boxing Day ...

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Uber in Nashville is interesting...

Me: 'So, what's the craziest thing that's happened to you since you started driving for Uber?' Him: 'Are you a shy girl?' Me: 'Er, I don't think ...

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Have I mentioned the Family Dollar Store yet?

Have I mentioned the Family Dollar store yet? It's my new favorite place here in Nashville. Contrary to the name, not everything inside costs a dollar, ...

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Lavenders, motorcycles and a feeling of deep uncool at Nashville's Barista Parlor...

There are some places in this world that will just serve to make you feel deeply uncool, no matter how young and awesome you previously ...

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Why Craigslist in Nashville is killing me...

Here's what this guy just wrote in reply to my post about looking for a room to rent in Nashville: "We are seeking a FEMALE caring nanny/care giver. ...

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Observation of the day...

Ubud cafes were full of middle aged women writing books on macs. Nashville cafes are full of cute young guys making music on macs. I know where ...

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Before He Was A Secret (Starstruck #3) Playlist...

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmhXXflqDQPAxUHvBiWosmLHWTd6sBM4Z I can't write a word without being inspired by every sound in the air around me, and I turned to music more than ever with ...

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Musings on a Nashville snow day...

No one told me flying south for the winter would take me somewhere colder than England. Then again, there's something so peaceful about walking alone down ...

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Fight your way through! A message to writers like me…

Fight your way through! A message to writers like me...

...and other creative souls no doubt! Someone sent me this video today by the amazingly inspiring Ira Glass, which I found very interesting. I can relate ...

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The difference a motorised bike makes...

I miss my bike in Bali so much that today I actually hovered outside someone's house in South Harrow contemplating whether I could justify spending ...

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Proving my roots: The nonsense that is taking the IELTS test in London...

"PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN! PENCILS DOWN, NOW!!!" Dumbledore boomed. I almost jumped out of my plastic chair, nerves shot to sh*t. I have a problem ...

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There's nothing more sexist than The Sun pulling Page 3 Girls...

Yes... SEXIST. If only for what's being said around the decision to drop this whole thing! "Instead of bare breasts, the pictures will now show scantily-clad ...

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I SURVIVED: The Freak British Tornado (and the suspect still running loose)

A mini-tornado hit north west London this afternoon - causing damage to homes and cars. I think I summoned it. I was thinking very dark ...

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It's cover reveal day for Before He Was A Secret. Exclusive excerpt here...

Today's the day, whoo hoooooo! I can finally reveal another amazing cover by designer Jeanine Henning, for the third standalone romance in my Starstruck Series, ...

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The night Emma Watson stole my toothbrush...

WARNING!!! I feel like I should say something. I've been quiet for way too long... almost an hour actually, but about an hour ago I ...

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Vaginal smoking and the benefits of yoni egg insertions (note: there are many)...

I have recently become quite fascinated with vaginal treatments. The fascination began when I saw this tempting advertisement on a board outside a spa in ...

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The truth about 'Ecstatic Dancing' at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali... (warning, this post may smell)

Everyone in Ubud knows the Yoga Barn. It's a sort of second home for eager expats, all of whom are quite happy to spend an ...

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From blogger to author at the Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival (an excerpt from Balilicious, which still stands today!)

Here I am as an author at the 2014 Ubud Writers’ and Readers Festival – woooow-weeee, I get a sparkly all access pass and everything! But it wasn’t so long ago I was a blogger, here in town to work on Balilicious – the Bali Diaries! Here’s an excerpt from then, which still stands today. Only today I get to talk on a panel about my self publishing experiences. If you’re in town, come say hi!

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When I first volunteered to help out at the eighth Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival, I had a somewhat exaggerated idea of what it would involve, especially as a member of the media team. Thanks to various media-type jobs in the past, I pictured swanning about for five days with my laminated VIP pass round my neck and a glass of champagne fixed permanently in my fingers. I pictured mingling with superstar authors and making intelligent observations on all things bookish, and being ever-so literary in really nice dresses.

None of that has happened.

As a volunteer member of the media team, I was given the title of ‘Blog Coordinator’ and it has been my full-time job to keep on top of all blogging matters. Among the chaos in a town that appears to have quadrupled its tourist population in the space of just five days, I’ve had to find the peace and quiet necessary to concentrate on coordinating a group of writers who’ve come from Australia, Java and elsewhere in Indonesia, who also volunteered their services for the cause. I’m pleased to report that so far they have all been covering the festival quite happily without access to any champagne, while sporting some pretty funky custom-designed Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival T-shirts. Go team!

The festival itself was founded in 2004 in response to the 2002 bombings as an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation. The festival’s founder and director, Australian- born Janet De Neefe, hoped to build stronger communities on the island she’d grown to call home through various arts and cultural programs. She succeeded, and this Ubud powerhouse is undoubtedly one of Bali’s most successful women … not to mention a downright lovely lady. I’ve met Janet De Neefe several times at Bar Luna, which is another one of her ventures. She came up with the idea for the literary nights in order to keep the festival in people’s minds all year ’round. (Their ‘coconut killer’ cocktails are a good incentive to keep attending, too!)

Having become an Indonesian citizen through her absolute devotion to the country, this switched-on entrepreneur, along with her Indonesian husband, has also opened two restaurants, a bakery, two guesthouses and a sewing room, which is responsible for making everything that’s used in her guesthouses. She also runs a cooking school, which I’ve heard is pretty cool, though I’ve yet to try it.

Through Janet and her team’s tireless efforts to score financial support through various sponsors, the Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival has since been named by Harper’s Bazaar UK as ‘among the top six literary festivals in the world’ and by Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Asia-Pacific network as ‘the next Edinburgh Festival of Asia’. Oh yeah. This little town is officially on the literary map and it continues to attract some of the world’s most talented writers.

There’s been a ton of fantastic stuff going on this week; live music from temples, comedy shows and bands in all the favourite spots, even a man called Marzuki Mohammad, who regaled his audience with stories of a recent trip to New York and other states in America alongside his batik-wearing rap group, the Jogja Hip- hop Foundation. Surprisingly, a number of eighteenth-century Javanese songs mixed in with a bit of modern-day hip-hop have resulted in a musical sensation. Some of these tunes were even used in the city of Jogjakarta as a rallying cry during recent conflict. Impressive stuff.

One has to wonder if batik-wearing hip-hoppers would have the same effect in a western political activist’s march. Would they even be allowed on Downing Street with all that stuff? I would hope so. If you can’t at least try and solve an issue with a bit of eighteenth-century bopping, accompanied by novelty-value, loud-patterned clothing these days, well, stop the world, I want to get off.

Ubud is busier than I’ve ever seen it. Walking the regular paths you’re swept along in a constant flow of tourists, locals, expats and visiting literary types wearing glasses and crochet and floaty skirts. The buses have been squeezing themselves through streets so tight it’s a wonder none of them have got stuck, or at least taken out a line of parked motorbikes yet. But I can’t be concerned about traffic. There’s work to be done and blogs to write and Tweets to Tweet and intoxicated old writers to scoop up off the floor.

Drunk people are ‘a given’ at writers’ and readers’ festivals, right? I mean, it’s no great secret that writers are drunks. If we’re not high on caffeine, convinced that three cups of coffee before 8 a.m. is the only way to get a thousand words down by 10 a.m., we’re propping up bars, swigging gin and tonic, moaning to all who’ll listen that the coffee kept us up till 2 a.m. and we’ve been way too sleep-deprived to write anything decent for weeks.

There’s an old writer here (I’m not mentioning any names) who has been seen staggering ’round town on several occasions since the festival began, completely off his trolley. Yesterday he practically fell into our minibus as he accompanied my new friend Claire (who lives in Java and is here to blog) and me into town from the headquarters at Indus Restaurant. He reeked of booze and started slurring something about a session that morning, at which point Claire whispered, ‘I was there. He was drunk.’

So he was drunk in public at 9 a.m. and he was even more drunk in our minibus at 5 p.m. This was impressive work by any writers’ standards. When we deposited him at his request on a street corner, somewhere on Monkey Forest Road, he stood there on the broken paving slabs looking puzzled, in broad daylight, with no shoes on. Somehow he’d managed to leave them back at the headquarters. His shirt was unbuttoned, too, like he’d undressed and redressed himself in the dark. Bless him. People were looking at him like he was mad.

Drunken mad men in high heels were part of the scenery where I used to do all my work, in Sydney’s Kings Cross — so much so that I’d barely register the men with no shoes on at all. Here in Ubud, Bali, however, well, you just don’t see people like that. Especially not westerners, and especially not westerners over the age of sixty, muttering jumbled nonsense in a foreign language with their shirts undone.

Anyway, so far, I think the Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival has been a fascinating study of humans in general, and there really has been some great stuff to attend and blog about. Being British, I’d never heard of the Australian singer Paul Kelly before, but he reduced a room to tears when he played a song called How to Make Gravy. Look it up, you won’t be disappointed.

I might not have met many super-famous people or got to swan around all la-di-da-ishly with a glass of champers but suffice to say I’m surprisingly fine with that these days. I am, however, invited to the Closing Party tomorrow at Blanco Museum, and the after-party at the nearby Bridges Wine Bar.

Bridges is renowned for being one of the classiest, most expensive joints in town, but it’s also one of the only places you can buy decent wine by the glass in Ubud, so naturally all the drunks will be congregating in that one spot. I’ll be strapping my shoes on tightly, of course, and buttoning up my clothes with extra precaution, just in case the drunk tries to lead me astray.

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(This is an excerpt from Balilicious – The Bali Diaries (HarperCollins) available in all good book stores and on Kindle.

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