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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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Go to Bali for less than a quid! Balilicious is 99p, starting today.

Becky Wicks lifted the burqa on Dubai In BURQALICIOUS. Now she turns her attention to Bali as she hilariously navigates life as an adopted Balinese ...

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How do you handle negative reviews for your book on Amazon and Goodreads? And are readers actively LOOKING for bad books?

What didn't make me smile throughout my recent and ultimately successful free book campaign on Amazon KDP (and I'll tell you this, seeing as we're ...

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Tinder Diaries: Getting my Groupon…

eat-us-henry-eat-us-all-1

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 a dusty Nepalese street, with his bicep bulging over it like a rock. In another he was posing with a group of kids somewhere in Africa, deeply tanned and most definitely sexily-engrossed in another culture. In a third, he was kneeling, arms crossed in some kind of military-type uniform, so this well-travelled man of the world got a big thumbs up from me.

After just three or four short messages we agreed to meet at a restaurant he’d chosen.

I’ve just got home. I’m not really sure what to think.

I arrived at the restaurant first. I did think the venue was a weird choice. It was a bit far away from anything else; took me about half an hour to walk there from the Sky Train. Aside from the waiter, the place was pretty dead, which might have been why said waiter pulled up a chair and proceeded to flirt for about ten minutes before thinking to offer me a drink.

Shamus, when he showed up, was nothing like his profile photos. Gone were the bulging biceps. Gone was the hair, even. He had pasty white skin and way more wrinkles on his face than on his oversized shirt, but more alarmingly, Shamus appeared to have no neck. I studied him as he draped his satchel over the back of another chair and put what looked like a ring binder full of documents on the table in front of him.

You know when you want to stare at something, but you know you really shouldn’t, so your eyes end up doing that weird rolling-around thing that makes you appear possessed? Well… yeah, I did that. Every time he looked at me I was trying to locate his neck in his shirt collar and the fact that I couldn’t was making me anxious. His photos showed him with a neck, so at which point it decided to disappear I have no clue. I contemplated whether it had been eaten by that goat in Nepal, or maybe one of the kids in the African village. I didn’t like to ask.

‘We’re having this,’ Shamus said, pointing at the menu when the waiter approached again a few minutes later with a bottle of wine. Again, alarm bells. He’d ordered for me. Who does that?! What the hell was this man doing on his travels to have come home with no neck and no manners?

‘I was going to have the pizza,’ I told him.

‘Oh, we can’t have pizza, the deal is only for the shared platter,’ he told me, apologetically. I noticed he was patting the ring binder on the table. I must have looked at him blankly ‘cause he opened the binder up then and slid it to me on a page that had one of those sticky yellow arrows on it, marking a place.

I scanned the print-out. It was a Groupon voucher. It read ‘Sharing platter – $20 instead of $35.’

Now, I know what you’re thinking: You’re such a picky bitch, there’s nothing wrong with a voucher; aren’t you always bitching about how expensive everything is in Vancouver? Well, yes. Yes I am. But when I flicked the page off the deal I found another Groupon voucher behind it, for something else. Then another. And another. And another.

Shamus had, in his sacred ring binder, a Groupon voucher for what looked like every restaurant, bar and activity in Vancouver, all with holes punctured perfectly in the sides for easy storage and removal.

I flicked through them. It was so fascinating. He can’t have paid full price for anything for years. In fact, I suspect Shamus is on a one-man mission to continue living in Canada for the cost of living in Nepal. Again, I didn’t like to ask. I did wonder though, if he got some sort of neck-shrinking deal that might have gone a bit awry.

Eventually Shamus took the binder off me gently and placed it on the empty chair next to him, like some kind of holy relic that shouldn’t be tarnished or fondled.

‘You have a lot of vouchers,’ I said, pointlessly.

He shrugged, sat back in his chair; eyed me up and down like a man who just knows he’s impressing a woman.

What arrived on this ‘platter’ when it showed up were two slabs of processed cheese and a pot of mush they said was mackerel pate. One small bowl had three tiny pickled onions it in. Shamus had two of them. ‘You can finish the mackerel if you like,’ he told me kindly. So I did. ‘This would’ve been over $100 without the voucher,’ he followed ebulliently when the bill came. He was obviously adding in the bottle of wine that cost more than two pizzas would have cost us.

On the way back to the Sky Train, Shamus asked me if I wanted to get some dessert at a place called Pinkberry. It serves frozen yogurt. ‘Did you get a Groupon for that, too?’ I asked.

‘Yup. Paid $5 instead of $10 for that one. I think we get two toppings each too, I’ll just check.’ He stopped mid-walk and flicked through the ring binder, jabbing a finger at a voucher in delight. I felt a bit bad that by this point I was watching this neckless wonder more in intrigue than out of any desire for a frozen yogurt.

It was while we were eating our half price puddings, sitting at a table on the street, that Shamus dropped a bit of strawberry topping on his huge shirt. ‘It’ll wash off,’ I told him when he looked disappointed.

‘Hope so, it’s a new shirt.’

‘Groupon?’

‘No, but they were 70% off.’

He dabbed at the blotch with a napkin. I considered that Shamus had been so caught up in scoring another bargain that he’d failed to realise the shirt was too big for him. So big in fact, that it swamped his body and caused his neck to disappear entirely.

At least I had some closure on that little issue before we said goodbye.

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