Category Archives: On Nature

On Nature

WANACon Vs Whistling Frogs

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.14.33 PM

‘Did you see JK Rowling in the mirror this morning?’ – Daven Anderson

A few months ago, I wrote about why I went to WANACon for the first time. I’m going to talk about why I went again this weekend, despite being faced with the distraction of whistling frogs. It was because I *knew* this digital writers’ conference would live up to its last installment. And it was well worth some creative logistical leaps to make attendance possible.

My Dad’s visiting from the UK and got into town on Friday. We planned a trip to the remote Catlins Coast, a 4 hour trip from my home in Queenstown NZ (& full of cute whistling frogs). Living half a world away, I don’t see my parents very much, so was obviously planning to treasure the trip. But horror of horrors! I realised it would clash with WANACon – such an important conference to attend at this pre-published point in my writing career.

So, I booked somewhere with wifi – The Whistling Frog Holiday Park. And it was awesome. There was a mixture of sunshine and storms (typical NZ), so it wasn’t their fault the wifi was… questionable. Also, you could gain free wifi vouchers if you spent money in the cafe (read bar) – match made in heaven :p I got up at dawn to watch as many sessions as possible – and now I’m catching up on everything I missed, because there are *recordings* and there was a high level of internet interference / teddies thrown out of pram in the wilderness.

Alongside a visit to Teapot World (A garden containing 776 teapots – worth a visit. I’m not kidding), some wonderful waterfalls, a petrified forest by the sea, caves alongside sandy beaches, rare penguin sightings… I got to see some of the most valuable names in the new world of small press, self-publishing, writing, web-building & branding – all imparting their wisdom while I sipped tea in my PJs and shook my fist at the signal strength / weather.

Since the last WANACon, I have had a website built by Laird Sapir & hosted by Jay Donovan, both WANA presenters/professionals; I have won NaNoWriMo and am revising a book for publication; I have met *amazing* bestselling authors, pre-published authors and many authors in between; and I have continued to *learn a lot* from the wonderful resources shared by writers, editors and craft experts who agree with WANA’s main principle – We Are Not Alone.

I’m reminded of this principle every time I connect with someone new, having found their blog through WANA. Every time someone tweets me an encouraging response on Twitter, having read a tweet of mine through #MyWANA. Every time I have a burning question answered, expertly and honestly, by someone who wants to help because they know me through WANA. All the WANA enthusiasts seem to embrace my motto – make the right mark.

So, thank you Kristen Lamb & everyone who presented at WANACon! It was just wonderful. And for my non-writey readers who might be a bit baffled by some of the above – here is a picture of a *really* rare penguin 🙂 Whatever your passion, have you found a forum where you can enjoy support and friendship in its pursuit? I hope so – it’s worth finding!

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.15.03 PM

Escape to Abel Tasmen


My Christmas Campsite

Hope you all had a merry Christmas and sorry for leaving you hanging like an unopened Christmas stocking!  I’ve been a bad blogger and officially missed two deadlines. My extenuating circumstances are Christmas and camping, so please forgive me. I left laptop and life behind to beat into the bush of Abel Tasmen, walking hours and hours into the wilderness and camping on beaches such as the one above. But words have still been dancing in my head and making their way onto paper, just waiting for some wifi… and here they are. 

I discussed a few weeks ago why life is good, even when it’s not – but, however good life is, an escape can be wonderful. A change is as good as a rest, they say, and a rest from the whirlwind of 2013 was definitely required. It’s been emotional. 

I won’t make a mad recap here – suffice to say, with t minus one week to go, the countdown to fleeing was *on*. The plan was in place (kind of); the budget was beat into submission (sort of); and come Saturday, we finally hit the road, after an early Christmas turkey with all the trimmings. A vegetarian turkey was even genetically engineered for the non-meat-eaters among us. 


Don’t ask. Or do! It’s an… interesting recipe.

We steamrollered north. Amazing to feel the wind in my hair once more, footloose and fancy-free times ahead. Of course, there’s only so fancy-free you can be. There’s still rent to pay behind you, the price of petrol, tyre dramas, unexpected expenditure (more tyre dramas – hadn’t quite managed to replace the spare after our last eventful road trip); and, of course, camping’s arch nemesis – the weather. 

But just as life is what you make it, so is an escape from it. Face inevitable chores and challenges with good humour and the rewards of rest and relaxation are yours for the taking. Let hitches and hiccups stress you out and you don’t stand a chance of a happy holiday.

Camping over Christmas was a joyful focus on the simple things in life – appreciating nature, finding food and keeping dry. It was fun to hunt mussels to cook for dinner and forget about the internet. It was less fun being damp and being bitten by sandflies. Overall, it was a good reminder never to take for granted a bed, a roof and something separating you from things that want to eat you. 

I hope everyone’s having a fantastic festive season and enjoying some form of escape in the happiness of holidays and the felicity of feasting with family and friends! Has anyone else let some things on the to-do list slide? Who else has overeaten? What do vegetarians normally eat for Christmas?! Whatever you do or don’t do, whether you forget or don’t do it on purpose – don’t forget to have fun. Take a break and escape…

Fishing & Wishing


‘If wishes were fishes, there’d be no room in the river for water’

– Russian Proverb

I’m very much looking forward to the forthcoming fishing season over here. Winter is drawing to a close and the promise beckons of longer days and sunny weekends away. I’ll miss the snow and be sad to be putting aside my board and boots… But I’m happy to be picking up a rod and net in the near future. I experienced my first fishing season and took on the role of Fishing Support last summer, pattering around after my partner in brine. I enjoyed freshly-caught and campfire-cooked salmon and trout in reward for perching peacefully in spots including those pictured above, a book in one hand and a net in the other, poised for action. I found fishing surprisingly exciting and deliciously rewarding last season, I’m eager for more of the same.

And now for the metaphors. There were many days we fished away, only to come back with nothing – lost lures and broken lines the only achievements. There were other days we made the catch, only for the critter to get away. On each and every day, there was little point standing still, hoping for a nibble. It was necessary to cast and recast; wander and reposition; cast and recast. There was actually much more movement involved than I had anticipated, which meant, along the way, I discovered beautiful places I  would otherwise never have seen. And such is life. Wishes are like fishes and if we hope for a wish to come true, we need to be moving; casting and recasting; not giving up, regardless of the lost lines and the fish that got away. We won’t always come away empty-handed if we persevere.

A wish is a hope. A hope is a dream. A dream is a possibility. It’s possible because you’ve imagined it. What do you wish for? Don’t just wish for a fish – go fish for it.