My $10,000 Writing, Travelling and Dreaming Bonus

Wealthy writer

What would you do if you got an email from a stranger saying you’d won $10,000 and asking you to send them your bank account details?

a. Delete it immediately – that kind of spam usually gets caught by your spam filter but one or two dodgy emails slip through.

b. Read it carefully wishing it could be true.

c. Read it carefully then send them your bank account details and look forward to getting the cash next week.

My finger was hovering over the delete button when I got an email last week that said:

“Thanks for taking the time to enter our Masterchef Ultimate Food Dream competition.

The good news is that YOU are the lucky competition winner and as a result you will shortly have $10,000 winging your way to enable you to head of to Zanzibar and feast on Swahili food!

We can draw a cheque and mail it to you, or, if you would prefer we can transfer the money directly into your bank account. We would just need your bank account details.”

But some of the details rang true.

I dream of travel. Always have, always will.

I had entered a Masterchef competition a few weeks earlier and I do dream of visiting Tanzania and its famous island Zanzibar.

I’d noticed the competition in the Sunday paper. I read every section. It’s a kind of illness, but it worked out well for me this time.

The $10,000 prize caught my eye even though I don’t watch Masterchef. The show sounds great but I don’t watch television much because I’m too busy writing, dreaming and planning how to make my dreams come true.

Reading the competition details I noticed they suggested writing about a country whose food you’d like to sample. I don’t really have an ultimate food dream but I do have travel dreams galore so my imagination took off.

My latest big travel dream focuses on Tanzania. I want to take our three children there on a six month safari for a few reasons:

  • I left my heart in Africa when I visited 20 years ago so I need to go back to get it.
  • We love wildlife. It was a joy to live in Costa Rica and see toucans, monkeys and sloth in the wild and I really want the kids to see African animals too.
  • My husband has friends in Tanzania. We design websites for some of them who run safari companies and if their photos don’t want to make you want to visit Tanzania nothing will.

I dreamt of being a writer and constantly strive to improve my writing

So that Sunday, as I lay in bed, I decided to enter the competition.

All you had to do was write 50 words or less about your dream and dreaming is my speciality.

My challenge was to weave in the foodie bit since Africa isn’t exactly well known for its cuisine.

I also wanted to stretch my writing skills and try to incorporate the five senses to bring my dream to life, or at least as many sense as I could squeeze into 50 words without going overboard.

I’ve entered a lot of competitions over the years where you have to write a few words about something and never won. I used to think it was because my writing was bad.

As I vanquished my inner critic I chose instead to believe that no one ever read what I wrote and the competitions were rigged anyway so I never had a chance.

So I had no real expectations of winning $10,000. I entered because:

  • It was a fun writing exercise.
  • I like to dream.
  • If you don’t try you won’t win.

Ultimate proof that it pays to dream

Writing travellingIt took me 20 minutes to write this entry:

“My ultimate food dream follows ancient trade routes to the Spice Islands, to Zanzibar where hot trade winds are scented with coriander, lime and coconut.

We’ll feast on Swahili food, exotic blends of African and Asian flavours, the freshest seafood and produce.

Don’t wake me! I’m dreaming of Zzzzzzanzibar……”

And of course I’m stoked I actually won because its proves a few things:

  1. Never give up.
  2. You won’t win anything first time so keep trying, keep writing.
  3. Dream big.
  4. Sometimes you just get lucky.
  5. Sometimes emails that sound too good to be true are true.

Making dreams come true

Many people would celebrate this windfall and have a little spending splurge.

Some would have to use it to pay off their debts but I don’t borrow money to follow my dreams or buy stuff I don’t need. I’ve travelled the world by working hard, spending carefully and prioritising travel.

$10,000 is a lot of money.

Never mind how long it would take you to earn that money. What’s really important is how long it would take you to save it.

I won’t be blowing my windfall on daily expenses, a new car or flash clothes. My windfall will be saved for our big trip.

I got the email on Friday evening and had an early night in. The next day I got up at 6.30am for my boxercise class and then spent three hours cleaning the house.

I can wait for my reward. I’ll celebrate when we get to Zanzibar.

So when are we off to Zanzibar?

Not for a while. It’s a trip we’d already got planned for a few years time but the good news is that $10,000 almost covers the flights from Australia to Tanzania.

I have to buy three adult tickets (my oldest son is 12 now so he pays full fare) and two child tickets for the younger ones so the flights are $11,000.

They’re the cheap flights too – you have to fly via Bangkok and then on to Tanzania with Ethiopian Air via Ethiopia which should be interesting.

We won’t be travelling business class either like I did last time I got an email from a stranger which seemed too good to be true but was true.

But we will be going to Zanzibar one day.

Here’s to Travelling, Writing and Dreaming

Let’s raise a toast to Masterchef, to Channel Ten, to Africa and to dreamers like me and you.

Because you have a dream too, don’t you?

The first slogan at Get In the Hot Spot was Live Your Dream and this blog is still about knowing what your dream is and making it happen.

Thank you so much for reading my blog, listening to my dreams and helping make them happen.

I hope my story inspires you to keep writing, keep travelling and keep dreaming.

What’s your dream? What do you need to do to make it happen? What would help you most?

Subscribe now by email or RSS feed for more travel and writing inspiration.

Photo credit: A Magill & B Tomlinson

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  1. J.D. Meier May 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Congratulations. I like your entry and I see why you scored it big.

  2. Karol Gajda May 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    The misspellings in the “winning” e-mail seem suspect. Did you already send your bank details?

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Karol, yes, I sent my bank account details and Channel Ten sent me the money:) I know it seems unbelievable but it’s true. Those TV stations must be making a lot of lolly:)

      • Karol Gajda May 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm

        Oh very cool! Congrats Annabel! What a fantastic win. :)

  3. Linda ~ Journey Jottings May 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Wow!! Annabel ~ That’s fantastic news –
    I think I’d still have played safe and got them to post the cheque!!
    Look forward to reading about the trip in a year or two then ;)

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda,I did a bit of due diligence but it seems that while it’s easy to spot la fake it’s also easy enough to spot the real deal. I hope you get to experiece it one day and yes I sooooo want to write about those adventures here:)

  4. Sara at Saving For Someday May 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm - Reply


    Congratulations! I’m thrilled for you and know that your posts about your trip will be as intoxicating as your entry.

    Next time I see you, if I start rubbing your arm like a genie will come out it’s just that I’m trying to get some of your awesome on me!


    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Sara, thank you. You don’t need my awesomeness, you’ve got your own on tap:)

  5. Cat Matson May 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Hey Annabel,

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is SOOOO exciting and I’m so happy to hear that you’re putting your winnings towards your dream … rather than ‘disappearing’ them in everyday ‘stuff’.

    One of the really poignant themes in this post is how skeptical, even cynical, we (I) have become. Of course we need to be careful who we give our details to … but is it any wonder that we’ve learned how ‘not to dream’ when our first response to ‘winning’ is ‘this isn’t real’?

    I have noted my cynicsm meter gradually rising over the last few years … which has tainted many an opportunity … or dream. So thanks for the post – for being ‘someone I know who has won big’ – and for reminding me that dreams really can come true :-)

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Cat, thanks for the lovely comment, for sharing my excitement and what a good point.

      We are all cynical about things. It is sad and it amazes me that I continue to enter these types of competition (I’ve probably been at it for 30 years!) despite never having won before. It really was just a fun writing excercise and excuse to dream.

      It looks like everyone can win if they only join in. I’m happy to have some good news to share today. Although I thought carefully about posting this because it seems like bragging but I do share my lows here so it’s only fair to share my wins too.

      Most of all I hope it inspires you too keep on competing and joining in. I know you’re a winner too:)

  6. Brenda May 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    WOW!!! Congrats A!!!

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks Brenda, reminds me of when we got that exciting email inviting us to Shanghai which I also thought was a scam but turned out to be real:)

  7. Sandra / Always Well Within May 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm - Reply


    That’s incredible! Of course, you’re entry was awesome so it’s not that outlandish. I’m happy for you and your family. And I’m really impressed by how you don’t borrow or spend money on things you don’t need. Bravo, well done! Here’s to writing and dreaming!

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Sandra, I’m not much of a consumer – I prefer to hit the road and you can’t have everything! Thanks for your well wishes and yes hooray for all us dreamy writers:)

  8. se7en May 31, 2011 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    That is simply amazing!!! The fact that you won is not amazing… I love your writing!!! The amazing fact is that you didn’t think the prize was spam!!! I have to say my kids watch Masterchef Australia everyday with their dad when he gets home from work!!! Anyway Well Done You!!! Happy planning and happy travels!!!

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Se7en, thanks so much! Aren’t you in South Africa?! Looks like they have Masterchef there too then:)

      • se7en May 31, 2011 at 10:19 pm

        Yup, Cape Town… on the way to Tanzania!!! Slightly!!!

  9. Denise May 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Wow!!! Congratulations!!! How exciting!

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Denise. Hope I inspired you to enter some competitions:)

  10. Odysseus Drifts May 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    That’s amazing! Have an incredible time adventuring with your writing prize money.

    • Annabel Candy May 31, 2011 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Odysseus, what a name;) Lovely to see you here. I can’t wait for the adventure but I also have a lot of fun planning and thinking about my trips!

  11. Red Nomad OZ May 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Congratulations! LOVE your entry – and can’t wait to read about your adventures!! Wonder what would have happened if you’d deleted the email??!!

    Thanx also for the prompt to think about my dreams. So easy to lose focus, but so (relatively) easy to get back on track!!

    Have a great day!!

    • Annabel Candy June 1, 2011 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Hi Red, hopefully they would have emailed me again but who knows! Yes, it’s a lovely reminder to us all to keep focusing on those dreams and keep trying:)

      • Red Nomad OZ June 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

        You’d like to think they would have kept trying ! I’m slowly moving into the 21st century and am now following you on Twitter!!!

  12. Denyse May 31, 2011 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    You dreamt it.
    You did it.
    You won it.

    Combining your passions and beliefs with talent & skills = $10k for holiday.

    A wonderful reward for all the right reasons.
    Have an awesome planning time & getaway! Denyse

  13. barbara June 1, 2011 at 1:47 am - Reply

    You are on a roll! I probably would have deleted that email. Now I’ll have to examine those things much more closely. Congratulations! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Zanzibar!

    • Annabel Candy June 1, 2011 at 8:25 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara, I can’t wait to get there but have to do a bit more work first:) This really helps though!

  14. Steve Thomas - fungeezer June 1, 2011 at 1:49 am - Reply

    Good on you! I know I would have just deleted it. That’s what I get for being such an untrusting soul!

    • Annabel Candy June 1, 2011 at 8:26 am - Reply

      Hi Steve, I know what you mean – I was very suspicious at first!

  15. Cordelia June 1, 2011 at 3:55 am - Reply

    So happy for you! It’s comforting to know that awesome windfalls DO happen to awesome & deserving people sometimes. :)

  16. Penelope J. June 1, 2011 at 4:03 am - Reply

    An inspiring post! First, because I’ve all but given up entering competitions and you gave me new hope.
    Second, because you showed how to use your five senses in 50 words – a rare feat that Tweeters/Twitterers could put to good use.
    Third, because you actually won the $10,000 first prize.
    I know the cost of getting to Zanzibar may be steep but I also know that you, of all people, will get there with your family. Can’t wait to read that post.

    • Annabel Candy June 1, 2011 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Hi Penelope, I’d almost given up entering them too but I’ve got more interest again now:) Not sure I managed to get all the five senses in but definitely squeezed a few in.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement. It does seem ridiculously expensive but we will be working hard to make it happen.

      I so want to write about more of my travels and inspire more people to do it to and just believe it is possible:)

  17. RILEY HARRISON June 1, 2011 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    Well congratulations. I’m sure few people would get the enjoyment that you will out of the trip. Of course your history of extensive travel and being a world class writer does tip the odds a little in your favor. Have a wonderful time and share the experiences with your readers.

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Hi Riley, thanks so much! I like to think persistence and practice paid off here:) And of course luck:)

  18. Cathy Johnson Campbell June 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Congrats, and thanks for your reflections… also appreciated and can so relate to Cat’s comments on cynicism. I was so cynical for many years about the world traveling to a place of peace, but happy to say I got off that road.

    So… what’s my dream you ask?….

    I dream of acceptance opening hearts to understanding,
    of compassion given to those stumbling,
    of integrity to walk hand in hand with nature,
    of non-judgement lighting our way with countries of strangers,
    of faith that we will wash the world with love, and live in peace.

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Hi Cathy, thanks so much for your beautiful comment and for having such lofty dreams. That truly is inspring and I share them with you:)

  19. Seana Smith June 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Hooray Annabel!! It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving writer! Just goes to show that a wee bit of inspiration and, crucially, acting on it, can send you off on all sorts of adventures. So delighted for you.

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Hi Seana, I do take a lot of actions. Many get me no where so very exciting this one had a great result. Thanks so much for sharing my excitement:)

  20. Brad June 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Holy cow batman! That’s awesome Annabel, well done. Can you fit me in a big suitcase :)

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Brad, lol, I already have enough freeloaders! And from past experience you might not actually want to travel with the Candy family – reading about it could be a better option:)

  21. anthea June 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    This happy story is something akin to a classic fairy tale… humble, hard-working hero gets the prize … good on you Annabel! Your stories are wonderfully simple, unpretentious and uplifting.

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Anthea, you are so giving. That is one of the loveliest things I’ve ever read about my writing. Mwah:) It is a fairy tale in many ways and so amazing they do come true.My fairy godmother must have been looking out for me:)

  22. Dave Doolin June 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Very stoked for you, Annabel. I’m looking forward to seeing pictures. You will get many years worth!

  23. Teresa June 2, 2011 at 10:52 am - Reply

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! How inspiring! Magical things happen when you are on the path of joy! I am soooo happy for you!

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you Teresa, you and all my readers have played a huge part in making me keep writing no matter what:) Every word of encouragement, every comment has made me stick with it and keep doing my best. I will never forget that.

  24. Marthese June 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Congratulations….going to Africa is one of my dreams…if it happens I do not know…but it is always good to dream :0

    • Annabel Candy June 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      Oh Marthese, I so hope you get to go. I wish everyone could. I have written two long posts about Africa – Lessons from a Witch Doctor ( and Reasons to be Cheerful ( The time I spend there helped me grow so much, I cherish it and am very grateful for it. I wish everyone could spend a year there!

  25. Galen Pearl June 3, 2011 at 6:34 am - Reply

    This is a great story! You are absolutely right about dreaming big and putting yourself out there! On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll send my bank account info to the person in Nigeria who wants me to be their business partner in a sure fire business venture! Ha!

  26. Jen Brown June 3, 2011 at 9:11 am - Reply

    I think I should start taking the time to read the Sunday papers rather than throwing them straight in the bin ;)

    Congratulations Annabel. So thrilled for you. I think I left my heart in Tanzania. If you could find it & send it home to me, that would be great, thanks ;)

  27. GutsyWriter June 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm - Reply


    Being married to an attorney who is suspicious of everything, I would have deleted that too, and thought it was another African scammer that I seem to get requesting money from Nigeria, mostly. After following Darren in Tanzania for a week, I look forward to following you. We took our kids to Tanzania and Kenya on a Safari when they were 9 and 6. We left the 2-year-old at home. My 6-year-old was so impressed and now, 20, remembers everything in much more detail than I do.

  28. Tom June 5, 2011 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Good for you Annabel. Deserving winner, both for the dream and the writing. It’s not the first time you’ve won things for your writing so it’s not just luck. Sounds amazing.

  29. Jen Gresham June 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    You see, it’s posts like this that make me fall in love with you. Oh wait, I was already in love with you.

    Thank you for writing them anyway. And for entering dreamy contests. And winning.

    Inspiration x infinity…


  30. Janet June 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    wow that is an amazing price! and it’s definitely cute, clever copy! I can see why you won. :) Great job capturing exotic in 50words!

  31. Dinah June 29, 2011 at 4:24 am - Reply

    Amazing story. I believe in that feeling I get when something inside is telling me to do something, I follow it, and in the end you know it was the right thing to do. Cheers to your winnings and thanks for the inspiration.

  32. Miss Britt November 8, 2011 at 1:11 am - Reply

    So exciting!! And a great reminder to keep dreaming.

  33. Eddie November 10, 2011 at 3:29 am - Reply

    All the time I was told by my friends and everyone to stop dreaming and just get on with my life (not that my life is bad), but I never wanted to stop – I love it.
    Thanks Annabel for showing that it’s ok to be a dreamer! It pays off well if you put enough effort in it;)

  34. Lisa Wood November 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    OH my gosh – congratulations! What a great competition, your style of writing was brilliant – loved your words!

    How cool that email would be :)


  35. Colin in Hawaii May 12, 2012 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Congratulations! Great entry!

  36. Vicky September 16, 2012 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Amazing! Well done Annabel. You will have an amazing time. I loved Zanzibar – the food was very meaty, so I hope none of you are vegetarians :)

  37. Sonia September 22, 2012 at 3:28 am - Reply

    And now you also have a friend on the south point of Africa in South Africa! You and your family are always welcome to visit. I am sure you will enjoy! Much wild life around here, and if not, we party them wild :-) There are many SA residents in Australia, but not many Ausies in SA……..makes me wonder……….am I missing something, or are you?
    Thanks for a great blog.

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