It was incubating and growing for two and a half years before my story was ready for ink and paper. Now half a year old, what has been happening in life of this new book, Accidental Aid Worker? I had great expectations of my first-born book and whether they’ve been realistic or a flight of fancy, I have held on tight, white knuckled on the rollercoaster – the vertical learning curve, the dips and the climbs through the writing, production, delivery and distribution of this book. Hold on to your hats everyone – here’s the big update.

A relatively easy delivery

The actual delivery date of the book was 13 October, a significant time, being the day after the anniversary of my mother’s passing (yes, that was planned). I spent the two weeks prior to the launch writing personal notes in over 110 books, packaging and posting books to all those who had purchased in my pre-sale campaign. I had promised to do that, and 110 books went out all over Australia, US, Sri Lanka and Europe before the launch.

1 November was a launch day and it threatened to storm and chunder. This is not good for an outdoor event at your home, and thankfully the rain held off until after a beautiful gathering of friends, including Greg Fisher and Dr Rabbi Dovid Slavin, who graciously helped me bring this beautiful book into the world. You can read more about it here and also see photos.


A heart-warming reception from readers

Thank you – to everyone who has not only taken time to read the book, but also to tell me how they feel about my story. My book has been warmly welcomed. I am so thrilled to be connecting with my readers and have my very human story embraced. After sending a copy of the book to Professor Dame Marie Bashir, I received a delightful letter from her. Her comments begin the reader’s comments page, and I am truly  humbled by not only her feedback, but by the kindness shown by many others.

When I receive messages from readers, whether mid-read or at the completion of the journey – we share a particular sense of connectedness.  I am encouraged – no, honoured, that people have taken the time to not only read, but to let me know how they feel and relate to the book and my journey. Please DO keep those comments coming! You can email them to me here.


Getting AAW on the shelves of bookstores and libraries in the new year

After a quick break to dive the waters of Vanuatu between Christmas and New Year, I focused on the task of trying to get Accidental Aid Worker into more bookstores and into catalogues in public libraries. I set myself a goal for Easter to learn about it – and crack that nut. I would also be trying to get some speaking gigs – author talks at either library or bookstores.

Can I start by saying this – it’s NOT EASY – at all!!! It’s daunting. When you don’t know how any of that works and you’re an unknown, untested self-published author of a very  personal memoir – it’s terrifying and intimidating. Long story short – I had been encouraged that two of my local bookstores had taken the book in-store when I launched the book and, on my first day back to ‘work’ mid-January, I nervously and tentatively fronted up to my local library, book-in-hand, to ask how this all worked.  It was taken from my hands immediately with words of ‘yes, we’ll take it’. HOORAY!

This was the beginning of 5 weeks of cold calls and visits to book stores and libraries. With a fair number of knock-backs and non-answers – it was becoming a rather demoralising task. This effort resulted in get Accidental Aid Worker into 8 bookstores and 5 libraries. I had, however, reached a point where I needed to find a distributor. At the end of February, Accidental Aid Worker was accepted with independent distributor Dennis Jones and Associates . I continue to keep pushing on with my own marketing to libraries and bookstores as it does take this kind of collaboration to make it succeed.

This distribution relationship enables all trade distributors to easily order and receive Accidental Aid Worker.  The delightful team from Dennis Jones and Associates are (almost) always happy to answer my questions and work with me, and although it’s only early days, my book is now available at a growing list of bookstores and libraries around Australia – click here to see where AAW is on the shelf.

I am also really loving carving a Sue Liu/ Zulu-style niche in the self publishing and book world.  Because I know no other way – I’m learning, creating new pathways and engaging with industry professionals as I do. This could be a whole new area of focus for me that is very different from the usual business, strategy and marketing work that Zulu Communications is known for. 

Did you know: If you want a copy of Accidental Aid Worker from your bookstore or library – you can ask them to order a copy. PLEASE DO!

 Q: How many sold?

That’s the question on everyone’s lips. How does a self-funded, self supported author throw that answer out into the world without saying this first. Is it all about sales? Well, some of that success equation relates to unit sold – and you also have to consider: time, direct vs. distribution, consignment, production and related costs, profits (what are they), profile, reviews, readership, promotion, e-book distribution and credibility. Don’t forget sanity.

A: My first print run is more or less gone and I now have Edition 2 printed. In short – yes, I have done modestly well in the last 5 months.


Publicity and my NSW speaking tour 

I was  honoured to be interviewed by Kel Richards from 2GB quite soon after the launch. Honoured because he had read the book and the interview was my very first! It was a wonderful first experience in the limelight – and you can listen to it right here!

This is the big one – the author talks, book tour, speaking schedule. It’s all those things. My first public talk was at Woollahra Council – a little teaser if you like as I was invited as a guest speaker for a volunteers’ meeting. Coming up in June – I have my very first – official round of public talks at libraries in NSW. 9 talks in 7 days in fact – click here to see the full schedule which starts at my local library on 2 June – Leichhardt  and travels through NSW Riverina region – ending at Albury… 2-9 June. 

I am certainly interested more speaking, interview and collaboration opportunities and would be happy to discuss your ideas!

To infinity and beyond?

So, what does the future hold for me as a)self employed person b) new author c) self published author d) community worker?

Your guess is as good as mine. I’ll be busy continuing with marketing Accidental Aid Worker, embracing community work and speaking opportunities while I develop my skills and techniques and try to earn a living in business and marketing world too. Somewhere in between – I will continue with writing…the sequel to AAW.



In my last newsletter and just before Christmas, I put out a call for volunteers to help with the preparation and service of lunch on Christmas Day at Gethsemane Community in Petersham. It’s my usual Christmas Day gig – and as the year wound up, I took on the additional duties of trying to organise the volunteers for The Christmas Project. Read more and see the video to refresh your memory.

Making Christmas Day 2015 a joy for community, volunteers and homeless people

Here’s how it happened – starring  Zulu’s Community/Sue, Gethsemane/Myree, Vic, Our Big Kitchen, Live, Love, Learn and volunteers

  • I offered to assist Gethsemane Community‘s Sr Myree Harris to find and co-ordinate volunteers for Christmas Day and also to help fellow volunteer, Vic, with the sorting and delivery of hampers to boarding houses around the inner west.
  • I contacted Our Big Kitchen to ask for help in finding volunteers for the day and also to supply vegetables for the making of salads for the lunch.
  • OBK put the word out on their Facebook page and also introduced Live, Love, Learn – a children’s art program, who co-incidently were going to be making cookies and gift bags on Christmas Eve for (ideally) homeless and disadvantaged people on Christmas Day – but did not have a recipient. Divine providence was at work here as this perfect match was made! On Christmas Eve, I went to OBK to collect 100 beautifully decorated cookie bags and thank the 85 children who prepared these package. The afternoon was spent doing the final packing of gift bags and hamper deliveries to boarding houses.
  • My nephew, Tim, helped me prepare 3 industrial sized salads (in a tiny kitchen) for the Christmas Day lunch.
  • On Christmas Day, around 35 volunteers assisted to put on a memorable day for around 80 visitors and their carers, preparing and serving a delicious feast and truly enjoying each other’s company.

That’s the power of community, collaboration and co-operation – and Zulu’s Community.

Thank you to everyone who contributed goods, gifts, food, time, energy, attention and support to make this day run so smoothy and so well.  

On going – Sue and Vic team up to feed Sydney’s homeless

One of the key outcomes of this short but intense lead up to this festive season service is, that after 4 years of volunteering for Gethsemane, a very key connection was made. Vic, who has worked with Myree for 6 years with the running of Christmas Day lunch, was -dare I say, shocked and surprised that I could ‘take over’ and run things so smoothly and drama-free.


Screenshot 2016-04-22 11.18.44

When Vic asked for my input into a community lunch that he has run for 3 years at a church in Darlinghurst, I said yes.

Each Thursday, Vic and a small team of volunteers prepare and serve fruit salad, burgers or sandwiches and coffee to around 40 homeless people. I have been volunteering most Thursdays now, and during his university break, so has Tim.

These few hours have become an important way for me to keep grounded and connected to my community. I look forward to this time and prioritise it, because it’s a tangible, practical way to serve my fellow human beings. I help feed people without any other agenda than to make a difference IN that moment.

We are a small team – from 4-7 people each week and this motley crew, called the ‘dream team’, are a really lovely bunch. It’s a small, but mighty effort – and we need more volunteers in our dream team.


If you can contribute 2.5 hours on a Thursday morning, even if it’s now and then, to assist us with feeding a small segment of Sydney’s homeless community – please contact me and I’ll connect you with Vic, who will be thrilled to have you as part of the ‘dream team’.


Just finished reading your book Accidental Aid Worker. Thank you for sharing your journey – not just a how-to on becoming involved in community work – but a very raw, personal & honest account of your emotional, spiritual, physical & mental journey of life. Funny, tragic & inspirational all rolled into one, I admire your vulnerability, down-to-earth attitude and your courage to face both mountains and valleys, and to traverse them both. What a pleasure to get to know you further through reading your memoirs and of course, to have you on our team at our C3 Cares Community Lunch. You are greatly appreciated & I’m looking forward to Book No. 2! – Monica Olander from C3 Church

launchIMG_0869Part of the massive (and worthwhile) effort over the last few months has been to approach libraries about giving an author talk. This is not such an easy thing to do! Even some of the most well-known, well regarded writers struggle to gain a coveted invitation and more than a handful of people at their talks. Taking a punt on my book and me, is quite a huge deal – for all involved.

I thank the team at Woollahra Council for giving me my first opportunity as their guest speaker for a their quarterly volunteer meeting. I am now thrilled and excited to announce a speaking tour in NSW in June.



  • 2 June – Leichhardt Library -Travellers’ Tales Author Talk – 6:30pm
  • 6-9 June – Riverina Regional Libraries: Wagga, Coolamon, Cootamundra, Temora, Bland, Corowa and Mulwala
  • 9 June – Albury Library Museum – 6:00pm

Can you guess how many kms Sue will drive on this speaking tour?

NSW Road trip map

Competition details will be announced on the Accidental Aid Worker Facebook page

If your community group, library or bookstore is interested in hearing first-hand what compelled me to put 12 years into voluntary community and aid work – please contact me – I’d be thrilled discuss the opportunities further.


Media Releases:

I am very proud of my association with Sydney Development Circle (SDC). It has been almost 9 years since, as a fledgling volunteer ‘aid worker’that I became a founding member of this group in 2007. I was invited to speak at the second meeting of SDC about my experiences in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2005 and 2006.  I have been active and involved in helping keep our development community connected with SDC, as part of the steering committee, helping with events (including the cook-in event in February 2016 at Our Big Kitchen) and social media.


Sydney Development Circle cook-in event at Our Big Kitchen, with food produced donated to the House of Welcome. This event in February 2016 was produced by Zulu Communications for SDC.

Today, SDC has evolved and still serves as an important volunteer organisation that brings together practitioners, academics, volunteers, students and passionate, kind-hearted human beings who desire to be involved for the good of humanity. It is by hearing each other’s stories that we often learn about how complex the world is and many, like me, value this opportunity to connect and share so that we can continue to make a difference in community. Find out more about SDC 

Accidental Aid Worker is my very unique story about diving into development work in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami as a passionate, ‘gung-ho, independent and self funded ‘aid worker’. This beginning has led to over 12 years of getting hands-on and often, in too deep, in far flung places like Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and here at home in Australia

 SDC logo$5 donated to Sydney Development Circle when you buy a copy of Accidental Aid Worker. 

To help SDC with keeping our communities connected, I will be donating:

  • $5 from each hard copy book purchased directly at an SDC event or from our shop.  Enter ‘SDC’ in to the coupon or comment section at check out and $5 will be donated to SDC.
  • $1 from each e-book from this link

Zulu Communications is proud to be a supporter of SDC through the Accidental Aid Worker fundraising campaign. I hope you’ll support us both and, learn from AND enjoy the journey. 


Review by Kiran and Robyn Hutchinson, SDC members and community development practitioners.

In 2004 the Boxing Day tsunami struck Sri Lanka, a country to which Sue Liu had travelled only a few months earlier. Leaving 35,000 dead and 500,000 displaced, Sue felt compelled to DO something and she did – rallying her friends to chip in, donate and give whatever they can. Sue and her friends’ generosity fill a container bound for Sri Lanka, where she travels to escort the supplies through the chaotic port of Colombo and then to Trincomalee in the far north. What she finds is far removed from her expectations of good will and the experience plunges her into the challenges that all of us face in the development landscape.  Sue finds herself an ‘accidental aid worker’.

“A brave and honest book”

This poignant travel memoir, Accidental Aid Worker details the adventures, challenges, doubts, and tribulations Sue experiences as she finds herself immersed into the humanitarian and development world.  The book extends far beyond the aftermath of the tsunami though.  Through her experience in Sri Lanka, Sue finds she has a passion and skill for community work.  Sue is also a woman of the world, with skills in demand by corporations. The pressures of humanitarian and corporate work, including the physical and mental stresses thrown up when doubts surface about the worth of one’s work and life, are a compelling theme of Accidental Aid Worker.  It is a brave and honest book.

Sue passionately, and always honestly, leads us on a path through the cultural challenges and the rewards that the community development sector can bring – and many humorous and heartfelt tales involving nuns, a tuktuk accident, refugees and orphaned children and so much more.  For those of us working in development, Sue’s passion to support community reflects our own paths in many ways. Her story reminded us of the joy we have felt at the connections and contributions we have made and why we are so passionate about development at the grass roots level. Accidental Aid Worker provides real-life lessons of operating in a cross cultural context.

Accidental Aid Worker highlights the bigger question facing us all, no matter where we are working on the continuum between aid and development: how to get ‘right’ that fine balance between aid and development, including how these two facets can complement each other and move towards sustainable community development at the grassroots level. This is a fundamental principal and critical challenge for all of us working in development. By putting her own achievements, mistakes and the personal impact of her efforts in writing, Sue holds up a mirror to the sector – allowing readers to reflect on our own struggles. Sue is one of us. We appreciate her honesty and energy because it keeps us focused on what is important in development work: passion and impact.


Yes – you know that late last year I (Sue Liu via Zulu Communications) successfully self published and launched my adventure travel memoir Accidental Aid Worker.

Yes – the process of writing and producing my own story and work took enormous time, commitment, focus, creativity, trips to the Chiropractor, learning a new craft and industry and tenacity AND money. It was a mighty effort to push through without completely burning out (again) and I made it through with sanity intact. JUST!

People ask me (constantly) how many books I’ve sold, because in terms of the perception of success in authoring and publishing – the measure is the number of units sold. I always baulk at this question because I wonder if it’s giving away too much and quite honestly – it makes me feel like a failure. WHY? Because I’m being measured by a scale that does not really exist for first time authors and self publishers and doesn’t equate at all in the world of traditional publishing. This is not just new for me – it’s new for everybody.

I have to create my own context and terms. That’s not so easy. Having run my own consultancy ( Zulu) for over 14 years, you’d think that I could more easily work this out. No – this is not the same and if you think being a self employed consultant is easy (no one does) – then try entering a new field and writing a book! It’s a completely different kettle of balls.

Do I care what people think IS success when it comes to units sold or ROI? Isn’t it more important for me to consider the impact of my story and how it feels, helps and resonates with those who’ve taken a punt on me and have bought my book? When exactly will I be able to say to myself “Sue, you can relax. You have been successful” ?

Sure – all of that – but what about my dreams? When you do this – aren’t you supposed to shoot for the moon? Am I expecting too much to dream big – to be snapped up by a publisher, be widely supported, have a marketing and PR machine behind me, be on the best seller list, have  a movie made from my book (who would play me?) and have my book sitting next to Elizabeth Gilbert, Frank Lowy or Sophia Loren on the shelf?

It’s ok to dream you know – and to have lofty aspirations and goals, but how deeply grounded in reality are those dreams and expectations when one is:

  • A first time, unknown author, self published, self employed, single person;
  • Between contracts and seeking connections – to pay the mortgage and feed the cat;
  • On the way to writing a sequel to the first book and juggling;
  • Considering if this is a post-mid life crisis thing or a real chance and a career transition;
  • Trying….really HARD to stay balance and grounded.

Gauging and measuring success (in no particular order)

1. Resonance and response: My story is unique, yet resonates with many in so many ways (I don’t want to give the story away – so let’s just say many ways).  People tell me that I’ve helped them experience many different aspects to life and raise burning questions that no-one else dare to verbalise. Yes -I went there. Maybe that I’ve helped a few people come to terms with their own struggles is in itself a measure of success.  You can read comments from readers here.

2. Attention: Maybe getting myself onto the shelves of two of my local book stores and in my local library is a win too. I didn’t realise how much it may be a win until others told me that is a victory.  Perhaps being interviewed by fellow author and master broadcaster Kel Richards on radio 2GB ( yes he did read the book) should be a time to celebrate. I did – that was nerve wracking and exciting.  You can listen to the interview here.

3. ROI and sales: So back to that questions about how am I doing with book sales and does it matter? Yes, it matters to me, because as a self funded, self publisher and a business woman. I want to see my investment in putting myself on the line and also my financial investment bare fruit. Based on this (modest) success, I have to evaluate if, how and when I will publish again.  Since launching on November 1, 2015, purely on my own steam via hard slog, marketing and direct sales, I have over 200 hardcopies of the memento edition of Accidental Aid Worker out in the world throughout Australia, USA, Sri Lanka, UK, Canada and Europe. Buy a copy of Accidental Aid Worker – signed copy and ebook or look for me on if you’re outside of Australia.

4. How I feel: Being human and learning about all of this as I go, understanding how to keep my ego in check and balance out all of these complex variables is probably THE most important thing.  Sometimes I get a bit hyped up and excited, other times it’s just dull and hard slog. I can’t afford really to go too NUTS about anything – one way or the other.

I am constantly reminded by friends when I get a bit blue or impatient about the pace of things, that this creation – a book of my life (that took me a year and half to incubate and year to write and two months to deliver) is only two months old.  They tell me, to have achieved Accidental Aid Worker at ALL is a big deal and to compare my version of success to anyone else or have reached those levels of success is stuff of dreams. I need to be real –  I’ll give it another few months 🙂

And, on my bookshelf, I’m already next to Elizabeth Gilbert and in a book store, I’m right next to Sophia Loren – so I should be happy with that. 

AAW on shelf with Liz at home

2GB logo


This is the interview with Kel Richards from Radio 2GB / 3AW/ 4BC recorded on 18 December 2015.

Christmas time is a hard time for many people, and all for different reasons. Some are alone, in conflict, have lost a family member and are grieving or are far away from home with feelings of nowhere to go. When its perceived that you’re the ONLY person in town with no ‘ho-ho-ho’ to look forward to – the time looms with doom and dread and you feel like you’re some how missing out and it’s just depressing.

I know. Me too. This is my reality…. until now and I promise – FOR REAL. 

Stay with me.

Yesterday – I was in the doctor’s waiting room and in walked a lady whom I recognised. I had seen her at the Christmas party I have served and volunteered at for the last three years.

“I know you!” I said to her “We’ve spent Christmas Day together before at Petersham!”.

“Awwwwwe, I know you too” she said. ” Awwwe, Christmas day – I love the party.”

She turned to her carer and said ” Awwwe, it’s a wonderful day. I see my friends, we have a party, there’s music, it’s delicious food AND we get presents. Awwwwwe, I’m so excited!”.

Sandra and I talked about the party that’s coming up, and how in two week’s time, we would be together again for this day. I told her that I would bring some of my 80’s music CDs and because she likes it – I will make potato salad WITH bacon (sorry to the vegetarians).

It meant something to me – to have this moment with Sandra, and for her to know that ‘Sue is going to be there to help her have a good day.’ We are friends for real now and looking forward to seeing each other on this day.’

I know what my day(s) of preparation and service are going to mean to Sandra and the 70 or so people (including carers) who live in group homes and boarding houses all around Sydney, who have intellectual disabilities and mental health issues, who have no family and come to Petersham for Christmas lunch. It means THE WORLD to them.

THE CRUNCH: I NEED 9 more people to help me on the day and be part of this very special opportunity to bring JOY to them. TRUST ME – it will bring immense joy to you too.

So, if you or someone YOU know is feeling a little left out and wants to find new purpose for this time of the year – please join me as a volunteer. We will all be together and we won’t be lonely.

Details: Christmas Day – 25 December
Time: 9:30 – 2pm
Where: Petersham
Duties: setting up, helping prepare and serve food, cleaning up, talking to people, helping them pop their bonbons and maybe even a bit of silly dancing to 80’s music.
What to bring: a salad, comfortable shoes and intent to have a good time.

Call me: 0411743015 – and PLEASE SHARE THIS POST ON YOUR WALL- and click below to see the VIDEO of the Christmas Project

THE CHRISTMAS PROJECT from Sirin Productions on Vimeo.

Why Gethsemane Community?

It’s my fourth year as a volunteer with Gethsemane Community. I usually make 3 large, industrial sized tubs of salad for Christmas Day lunch – that takes me most of Christmas eve to prepare. This year I’m organising all of the volunteers and helping with running around. I am also working with Our Big Kitchen to provide supplies and cookies. That story follows.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Accidental Aid Worker by Sue Liu

Accidental Aid Worker

by Sue Liu

Giveaway ends December 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Many people have seen heard the name and seen the face of Sue Liu and Zulu at Our Big Kitchen over the last few years in relation to interesting events she has run. Few however would know the  story of how Sue came to reconnect with Dr Dovid Rabbi and Laya Slavin and what has driven her to focus so keenly on supporting OBK by raising awareness and bringing people to the kitchen.

Since discovering OBK through a quirky introduction to former GM Greg Fisher (March 2013), Sue has run over a dozen events, bringing hundreds of people from her own network, contributed over $6000 to the kitchen, volunteered and supported on just as many occasions and of course, helped produce countless thousands of meals to feed our vulnerable communities.

WHY? – Why has the work of OBK been so important to Sue for her to focus so much on the kitchen? How did Sue meet Rabbi and Laya Slavin so many years ago, and why is she so doggedly committed to helping communities in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and now in Sydney? It’s a fantastic story – and it is written in the pages of her new book Accidental Aid Worker. This self published book was written with commitment in just 12 months, and Sue has brought it to life. The book was launched with the help of Greg Fisher and Rabbi Slavin – who Sue has claimed as “her” Rabbi.

Buy books and gifts – and raise money for Our Big Kitchen

2015-10-16 12.17.11Supporters of OBK can help support the endless work of helping community by getting involved in Sue’s innovative fundraising (ad)ventures – and also buying a copy of the book Accidental Aid Worker. Here’s how:

  • $5 from each copy of Accidental Aid Worker purchased by OBK supporters will be donated to OBK.
  • The donation component from candles, cards and gifts purchased can also go toward OBK if you choose. Select OBK from the list of recipients – which includes The Wayside Chapel, Lou’s Place and Gethsemane Community.
  • Books can be collected FROM OBK!  You can order books online and pay by credit card or pay cash when you see Sandy to collect from OBK (please check with Sandy by calling first).

Visit the shop here at AAW or see the full range from Candles for Community. Please note – only books can be collected from OBK. All other items – candles, cards and gifts must be posted or collected. 


I hereby declare that from today, Monday 16 November through to Christmas Day 2015 – the more YOU BUY, the more I GIVE. 

Part of the pledge of Zulu’s Community and Candles for Community is that we help you give back to communities while you’re also buying gifts for friends, colleagues and loved ones for Christmas.


While you give generously to your friends this Christmas, help me to support people in need.

Now, go forth, share this post and shop, shop, SHOP!

Visit the Accidental Aid Worker shop and see the full range of candles and gift packs at Candles for Community.

1 November – with thunderous storms predicted at the time of launch, magically they stayed away long enough for Greg Fisher (Author of Inside Out), Dr Rabbi Dovid Slavin (Our Big Kitchen), friends and Moet the cat to welcome Accidental Aid Worker to the world.

Thank you to those who have championed and supported me on my relatively short and intense writing and publishing journey. It has been an enormous (ad)venture, in so many ways. It feels to me, it may just be the beginning of something amazing and new for me.

Please do keep supporting me by sharing my story and encouraging others to read my story. Buying books for friends, candles and card and the like, will also help me continue to raise awareness and support people with real needs in our community.

Enjoy the read, and the journey.



On Goodreads

This displays the last 3 reviews of 4 star or above for the AAW book.

AAWlaunch225A9487I’ve been remiss in reporting about the Accidental Aid Worker book shower event and 70th Birthday celebration for Geraldine Cox.

In short – it was GREAT! It was a BIG afternoon – with over 50 guests firstly making challah bread and other goodies before sitting down to…. well listen to me for 30 minutes (hmm, maybe more). Seriously – I was able to, for the first time, introduce my story, my journey and my book to friends and supporters. Part of that presentation was reading the part of my book that answers my most frequently asked question: “How did you meet Geraldine?” I think I saw a few tears as I read out those words, I think a few of them may have been mine and Geraldine’s.

The remainder of our afternoon was a delicious afternoon tea to honour Geraldine’s 70th birthday. Thank you to Rabbi Slavin, Greg Fisher and all the staff at OBK for putting on such an amazing event and delicious afternoon tea for us.


AAWlaunch225A9640It’s an unusual concept – but the book shower was a fundraiser – partly to fund  the production of my book and also to continue to raise awareness of it, Sunrise, OBK and our connections. As part of the fundraising I ran a market selling items from Candles for Community shop as well as pre-selling copies of my book. And here are the results: Over $5000 raised

  • 30 books pre-sold and enough money raised from the market and ticket sales to pay for the editing of my book
  • Sunrise donations =$1550
  • Contribution to OBK = $550

Don’t forget to pre- purchase your copy/ies of Accidental Aid Worker – it will help me fund the completion of the editing and work out how many to print. Buy online here

Monday 17 August – did you catch the Australian Story program about Geraldine Cox? Don’t worry if you did – the good news is you can watch it again here online: Australian Story – 17 August – Big Mum

Australian Story

Oh – and you might see me at the beginning and my two girls later in the program.

PRE-ORDER CAMPAIGN 21 June – 11 September 2015

Sue is self-publishing her first book, a travel memoir called Accidental aid worker, with plans for a release date of 1 November 2015.


Pre-purchasing your copy of the book will help with planning, estimating and funding the production of the first edition.

  • You’ll get a copy of the first edition book and receive it before it is released for general sale
  • Sue will personalised and signed your copy and also for those you’re buying for
  • The price will be guaranteed @ $35 (inc gst) – collect or add postage for $12 in Australia.

You will also receive a specially number token – your piece of the puzzle for helping to bring this book to print!




  • If you live outside Australia, you can STILL pre-purchase your books. We will have to work out postage closer to printing
  • Please include in the comments section if you need your copies personalised for gifts to others
  • Payments are via PAYPAL  and in Australian dollars. If you would prefer to direct deposit – please contact Sue – (details on the contact page) and she can send you a form for manual processing

AAW book shower - small

There’s going to be a special gathering in Sydney  on Sunday 21 June in Bondi (1-4pm)  and you are invited!

It’s a unique fundraising event and gathering called Sue’s book shower and Geraldine’s 70th Birthday afternoon tea.

Yes – that’s right – a BOOK SHOWER – for this book!! Since August last year, apart from working, I’ve been in “lockdown” writing the book, working on the publishing project. I’m really thrilled to let you know that my plans to achieve publication  by the end of the year are on track. I will have to commit at least the next 6 months to make it happen, but I will.

I just returned from two life-change weeks in Sri Lanka with Bruno, who I have been mentoring these last 11 years. It was an inspiring trip where he reviewed and signed off on 16 chapters of the book that pertain to our journey together – AND – we are now business partners – (STORY to come….). Bruno’s wife and business partner ( now my business partner too) Sarojini will be (visa permitting) coming out  from Sri Lanka  to join us at the fundraising event.

YES – it’s also a celebration afternoon tea for Geraldine Cox (Sunrise Children’s Villages) who is turning 70 and who is my other guest of honour! It’s going to be an exciting and unique event –  celebration of my work in communities and the people I’ve been supporting and working with/for who are central to my life and my book.

Tickets are: $55 for adults and $25 for under 15 yr olds.

There will be a bit of cooking, raffles and lovely things to buy at Zulu’s  market – with proceeds supporting OBK, my book project, Sri Lanka and Cambodian communities.  I will also be announcing details about the book.

I would LOVE your support – if  you’re free that afternoon – please come along, bringing friends and tell people in your network who may be interested about this unique and very special event! Proceeds from the event will support Sue’s book project, Our Big Kitchen, Sunrise and Sri Lankan community projects.

There are limited spaces and tickets are:  $55 for adults and $25 for under 16yrs. For further information and to book your tickets visit:


aaw fb

It was time to give Accidental aid worker it’s own facebook page, instead of hogging mine and Zulu’s.

It will be a good way to keep up to date on all the news, including travel updates from Sri Lanka! Here’s the URL




14 March update:

I didn’t end up going to Sri Lanka in January. The timing wasn’t right and I was not where I wanted to be with the book at Christmas time, so I changed my trip to late April. Late April is now 5 weeks away.

ProgressMy head is swimming with all that I feel I need to do before I go – as I’m not where I want to be with the writing this book (still!).   I’m putting pressure on myself to have substantial parts of existing drafts, rewritten by the time I go. Is it realistic and feasible? Well yes, it is if I selfishly claim back my time and focus.

On Saturday in 5 weeks time, I’ll be sitting in a moderately priced, conveniently located hotel in Colombo recovering from my flight and contemplating a 14+ hour train ride to the cool, green hills of Haputale.

I’ll be spending a week with Bruno to do some fact-checking for the book as well as giving him some business mentoring, visiting some communities, getting blessings in temples and hiking through the tea plantations. I’ll spend a further week in the south of the country on a writing retreat.

Here’s a little update on where I’m at, just so you don’t think I’ve been slacking off since the last update.

  • I’ve drafted 24 chapters out of a planned 33 chapters plus prologue and epilogue.  I’m currently writing the prologue and in the process of re-editing the first 14 chapters – feeling that I need to get that right before laying down new content.
  • Content wise – areas of my life that I wasn’t intending to write about – I have started writing about and going far deeper into my life story than I first though I would.  I felt the need to include some of those events to give gravity and sense to my experiences. The book now spans 20 years, not 10!
  •  After exploring the editing process, I realise that I am not ready for it. My goal is to achieve a complete first draft by August 2015 and then see how I go.
  • I HAVE had the pleasure of reading 4 chapters to Geraldine Cox – because she’s in them. Her reaction was “it’s all true Sue – everything you say happened. Your story and the way you’ve written it is a book that I would buy and love to read.” – Thanks Mum, I’m very encouraged by that.

Sue and GC

One of the most challenging aspects to this writing project is managing my energy and time. My professional work as a marketing consultant in the area of mental health and private hospitals is incredibly demanding. I work on issues such as depression, anxiety, suicide, drug and substance abuse and post traumatic stress disorders. Not light or easy work by any stretch. However – some of these issues bring a different focus and relevance to my own story which includes some of those terrible afflictions above.

Switching from work mode – to writing mode is not so easy, nor is carving our precious time to focus on delving back into my history and articulating it. I will keep going though. I must, I have gone too far now to not achieve publication of this book.


I will be donating $200 raised over Candles for Community 2015 Christmas campaign and will also take over some of my cute Zulu Community bags for Bruno to sell. I already donated $200 to Fr Jeevanadas and with that he bought a student a pushbike!


3 tileI will be having a unique fundraiser for Accidental aid worker project on 21 June in Sydney and we will also be celebrating Geraldine’s 70th Birthday. Please connect with me if you would like to know more.

Forgive me people, for I have …………. seemingly dropped off the face of the planet (except on facebook) with regard to Accidental aid worker.


Writing Wednesday went to Melbourne, and it’s not always about writing words. With Tracey Shelton doing some serious ‘research’ for the act of writing story.

Last post – was early October after I finished some very intense writing days up in the Blue Mountains on Writing Retreat No. 2 ( at Jo’s – with kitties).  I was a very momentous time-out, having to travel back in time to revisit places I haven’t been to in my mind and my soul for a very long time. And it kinda burned me out a bit. I worked out that in just under two months, I wrote 43,000 (decent) words in about 18/30 chapters, AND found my Editor.

Swings and roundabouts really……………..

I’ve tried to do Writing Wednesday, but sometimes it was Monday (in rainy Melbourne) and some weeks I had to shift it to Friday, Saturday and Sunday (like this week) and other weeks I didn’t do it at all! I didn’t intend to take a month ‘off’ writing, but having said that it wasn’t a idle month, nor was it unproductive. It was just not a month of not progressing with the writing of this book.

But I:

  • Cemented my agreement with my Editor (I’m excited to say those words) Shelley Kenigsburg – who is now massaging my draft words for you to read.
  • Spent some QT (quality time) with some really important gal pals of mine, including Tracey Shelton who was home for a visit (Melbourne) from the front line in Syria. As a multimedia journalist and someone who is documenting people’s stories in the current conflict in Iraq, it was so wonderful to talk story and share views on how to ‘bring our stories to life’. For her, in news- for me, in memoir.
  • Worked for clients (money earning) has been full-on and I’ve been delivering, delivering, delivering campaigns a plenty on that front.
  • Decided to give my fundraising campaign Candles for Community another run this Christmas, which meant almost a complete redevelopment of my range, photography, online store, new brochure etc. That took a good 3 weeks of energy and focus.

I am also finalising my plan and  bookings for the big writing retreat- when I return to Sri Lanka at the end of January for a few weeks.   I’ll be taking train rides all over the country and spending time with Bruno doing final research, verification and try to complete the writing phases of this project.

So, for the next few weeks and particularly over Christmas and New Year, I’ll be hunkering down, trying to keep on top of all of these things AND write more – before leaving for Sri Lanka.

YES – I agree, it’s all a bit full-on. But there is NO turning back now…………… this book is happening.

Til next time……

Sue x

About Candles for Community – support Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and this book project!

Sunrise candles_2014_D2You can order online for Christmas by the way – please do! I make all the candles myself, to order to raise money that will go to Sri Lanka, Sunrise Children’s Villages in Cambodia and help fund this book.

If your business has yet to organise their Christmas gifts, this is a great solution for you! Your gifts will keep on giving, with  between $2  and $ 6.50 per item donated to a community or project.

Orders close 15 December – have a look at the wonderful range of candles, cards and gifts and read about Campaign 2014 here!

You can download the  flyer here – Candles for Community 2014 -2015

Tuesday 7 October

It’s a post on Tuesday night this time folks because I have to work on my traditional Writing Wednesday! Boy did I need that long weekend, because I busted my brain and wrote my heart last week up in the Blue Mountains on writing retreat No. 2.

Mike matsuI did a house and kitty swap with my friend Jo, so I traded my enormous and adorable Burmese brown boy for two delicate, aged British blue girls. I was glad of the company, the smooches and head bonking from the girls because it was a very emotional few days of writing.

I wrote some very tricky chapters last week, relating to the death of my friend Michael Matsushita in the London Bombings of 2005.  Going back to that time and dredging through the tide of emotions was so draining. It was the hardest chapter I’ve had to write and you know what? I needed to be in the mountains and alone to go there. Tis done now. Mike’s friendship, amazing life and tragic death is central to my life today.

I only really realised how much through the process of delving deep and paying homage to my friend. I can’t wait to introduce him to you when the time is right.

Since I have been writing in earnest – since early August, I have completed drafting 17 chapters…. that’s about 45,000 words. I’m just over half way. I still have a lot of work to do and I’m determined to stick to my deadline of June next year to publish and launch this book. And now… the drum roll…………….

I have an EDITOR!!

Shelley Kenigsberg and I shook hands virtually over Skype this afternoon. We have agreed to work together to bring this book to you. Shelley is an editor, teacher and writer and has over 20 years experience in editing. She has worked for publishers in Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and the UK. She currently lives in Bali, so I may have to factor in a trip there at some stage (any excuse).

My editor (I can say that now)  was actually recommended to me, and then we found we had three of four quirky connections. Being the superstitious person that I am, I took these serendipitous happenings as signs.

So the work now takes another turn and I should get back to it now….Part 4 -C is waiting to be written.

S x