Finally, a new blog post!

Thank you to everyone who entered my Goodreads November giveaway! Ten paperback copies of my novella, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, are now on their way to ten lucky winners across the U.S. Congrats, everyone!

Some lovely reviews of the novella have come in recently. It’s always amazing and humbling to hear that people are taking time out to read my work. Soren from Ripley’s Booklist said it had “A nice blend of humor and emotion, with a realistic teen voice.” And Sabina on Goodreads said she “cried a lot,” which, believe, me is a huge compliment! I cried when I wrote this story too because I adore my poor tortured characters. Check out more reviews on my website.

Soooo, December, huh? This year went by in a flash. One of the highlights of 2016 for me was going to the U.S. for the RWA conference in San Diego, where I saw my two critique partners win the highest honours in romance writing — Pintip Dunn nabbed the RITA for Best First Book and Kim MacCarron earned a Golden Heart Award for Best Inspirational Romance manuscript. Golden Heart winner and fellow Aussie Gabrielle Luthy and I trotted off to a cat cafe and got our feline fix. We giggled over buying American laundry “souvenirs” from a supermarket — a magical wrinkle eraser and a Tide spot-stain remover. #ohtheglamour.

Kim and Pintip - winnahs!
Kim and Pintip – winnahs!
Gabrielle Luthy, Golden Heart winner and fellow cat enthusiast
Gabrielle Luthy, Golden Heart winner and fellow cat enthusiast
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Ghost-hunting with Kim in San Diego

My agent and I were treated to an impromptu dolphin show while we had lunch by the water. Apparently, dolphins are enlisted by the navy for mine detection among other things.

In Nashville, I saw my favourite band of all time, Duran Duran. (Actually, I almost missed them because my plane was delayed first by a janitorial issue and then storm activity.) Nile Rodgers and Chic were the support act. OMG – gobsmackingly good. DD and Nile performed a tribute to David Bowie, blending ‘Planet Earth’ with ‘Space Oddity’.

Spare a thought (or ‘Save a Prayer’) for DD, who’ve just lost a high court battle for the rights to their early works. Read about it here. Heartbreaking stuff. In the meantime, I urge you to listen to and download their later works, like the albums ‘All You Need Is Now’ (I made a tiny reference to it in my novella) and ‘Paper Gods’.

Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon.
Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon in Nashville.
John Taylor
John Taylor

In more heartbreaking news, my 17-year-old cat, Possum, has been diagnosed with an inoperable tumour. We don’t know how much time we’ve got together, but we’re making the most of it. She’s pretty much glued to my lap, “helping” me write as always!

Brave little Possum (who is actually a cat, I assure you!)
Brave little Possum (who is actually a cat, I assure you!)

How about you? Was 2016 a good, bad or meh year for you?

Goodbye, Old Friend

About 19 years ago, a friendly little black kitten wandered into my laundry and rubbed against my newly clean clothes. Our then next-door neighbour, Dana, a doctor, found him — Pinklepurr — doing the rounds of her hospital north of Brisbane, Australia. She took him home as a companion to her terrier, Scully. Pretty soon, Pinkie and Scully became best friends, often chasing each other up and down the halls and stairs of our house.

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Eventually, Pinkie decided he preferred our company full-time and moved in with us. Life would never be the same again! Pinkie soon established himself as the tough guy of the neighbourhood. His main rival was Tiger, an enormous grey cat who lived two doors up. We kept him inside at night, but by day, he would steal other cats’ kibble (or crunchies as we call them in our household). We did our best to keep him out of trouble, but Pinkie, ever the Houdini, always found a way outside. He’d climb out of second-storey windows. And re-enter through second-storey windows.

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Unfortunately, he ate so much “inferior”-brand crunchies that he developed two types of painful bladder crystals. He almost died then. But he fought through it – the vet said he was “fit as a Mallee bull.” No more inferior food for this little black cat. The vet said he could only eat a premium-food diet for the rest of his life. After that, we adopted a little sister for Pinkie, a kitten we named Possum. He adored and protected her from day one.

The four of us moved to Sydney, to McElhone Place, a charming street where a family of ginger cats ruled. Pinkie was very much out-numbered and he fought a little less. He spent a lot more time with me indoors. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was by my side when I finished my very first manuscript back in 2004. At times, he enjoyed a walk in the nearby playground with my husband. All you had to say was “Walkies for Porkies?” (’cause he was a bit tubby at this stage) and Pinkie would beg to go out for a stroll.

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We moved a couple more times, eventually settling into our current home nine years ago, where I think Pinkie was happiest. Three floors to explore, lots of sunshine, and of course a loving family. I started obsessively taking photos of my kitties. So much so that I made a short-lived blog site called P&P Furball Factory. Pinkie got a real taste for fame when he and Possum were featured on the I Can Has Cheezburger site and, later, published in the ICHC 2012 desk calendar.

Like his mum (me), Pinkie loved watching TV. A show called Totally Wild was his favourite because it often had animal guests. One night, he watched a documentary about the black wolves of Yellowstone National Park. He looked terrified, often turning to us with wide black eyes whenever the wolves howled on TV. For about a week after that, he would not go outside. I guess he was convinced wolves were literally at our door!

Age started creeping up on Pinkie. He went 100% deaf about a year or so ago. He’d stick to Possum like glue whenever they dozed in the backyard. It was a survival mechanism. If she moved, he moved. Then last year, Pinkie started getting seizures. The vets theorised these seizures could have been caused by a tumour or a stroke. Because of his age, we decided not to get an MRI and that we would manage his condition. And Pinkie was happy and playful enough for the most part. He’d yowl a lot, which he never did before, and he’d demand to be fed every half hour rather than every eight hours.

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But, unfortunately, just this past Christmas morning, Pinkie’s body decided it was time to go. I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t talk about what exactly happened. Let’s just say he was a fighter to the end, a tough Mallee bull. It’s been a week and it is still very difficult to even think about it. I would like to thank everyone at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Sydney for easing our beloved boy’s pain.

A good friend of mine was in a town called Wondai over the Christmas break. This town is about 30km from where Pinkie was found all those years ago. She saw a black cat doing the rounds of the local hospital. The nurses explained it was a therapy cat. Wouldn’t it be lovely to think this cat was a relative of Pinkie’s, carrying on the family tradition?

Pinkie, you loved and were loved for 19 wonderful years. We miss you. You’ll never be forgotten. RIP.

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