Carried away by the Current

The trees in the village are ablaze with Autumn colours. It’s like you’re in fairyland when the leaves fall around you. I walk everywhere on a scrunchy carpet of leaves.

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Carloads of tourists arrive to photograph our streets.   I relish feeling the dip in the seasons. We have farewelled daylight savings. The nights draw in faster and the days have a chilly bite.

Our neighbour informs us that there’s a local saying that winter arrives with Anzac Day. It appears to be true.    I love Autumn – the transition season but it can also bring a melancholy with the change in light.

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I’ve been living a hermit life (as much as possible with an eleven-year-old daughter) to complete my current book.   My agent is really enthusiastic about the chapters she’s read. My husband, David thinks it’s the ‘best one yet’ – which is what every writer wants to hear. Technically, it’s been a challenge as I’m working with three time periods (the 1800s, 1920s and 1950).   Thank you to readers who have written to me, or commented on my social media, saying how much they are looking forward to this book. The feedback means everything.

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I would like to share this photograph I took in Sydney recently on an outing with my daughter to the Museum of Contemporary Art. This beautiful mer-child with the body of a child and the head of an ancient fish is called “To be carried away by the current, to be dissolved in the other.” The artist is Sangetta Sandrasegar.

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The work is a comment on our changing relationship to the sea brought about by technology. Also, the disappearance of our marine-life and our move away from mythology and old sea-tales. I love her brooding power as she watches a bustling Sydney harbour and the passing clouds, unnoticed by the crowds below her.  You can read more on this piece HERE.    I share the artist’s thoughts on our increasing detachment from myths and nature.

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I find it essential to my own balance to acknowledge seasons and moon cycles. When friends have commented on my passion for comparative religions and ritual, I think of Joseph Campbell’s quote that if you want to know what a society is like without its rituals – read the New York Times.

Here is a photo of a simple ritual my daughter and I did for the New Moon.

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We attended our first Lithgow Ironfest which was a colour and enjoyable day with artisans, jousting, knights, battle re-enactments, steampunks and 1940s army nurses – an enjoyable contrast to the crowds and materialism of the annual Sydney Easter Show.

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We’ve also been attending quite a few sessions at our favourite mountains cinema. Mount Vic Flicks is a traditional cinema experience plus the best hot soup in mugs. Once the manager even delayed putting the movie on to give patrons down the highway a chance to make the movie in time as the traffic was heavy. It’s these olde world courtesies that make our new mountain life such a pleasure.

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I’ve also been reading a lot. I keep wanting to have time to write a post featuring the books I’ve read this year but with trying to finish my own book at the moment it’s been impossible. But it’s a long list with thrillers and mysteries comprising the bulk.    I love staring up at the stars which blaze in a way unimagined in the city. It’s so easy to let go of the trivia and dust of everyday life when you view Saturn through the telescope.

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Roots

I love our new life in the Blue Mountains. Waking to a heavy veil of silence, the air so crispy-fresh that I can feel my lungs celebrate when I inhale, desperate after years of inner-city living to consume the sparkling prana. I love the school run where strangers smile hello and artistic-looking parents in paint-smeared jeans drop artistic-looking children.
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Birdsong permeates the village and in one day several seasons can pass and I love them all. I walk everywhere marvelling over big kookaburras and the sound of lawn mowers instead of aeroplanes overhead. The smell of freshly cut grass.
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After so many years of talking about moving to the country, we fled Sydney. Developers taking over our street and the towering apartment blocks were squashing us. I felt sadness watching a lot of the working artists’ studios closing as the apartments mushroomed. An ongoing bullying case at my daughter’s school – too many toxic environmental pollutants in the air and toxic situations. Life is too fragile to keep trying to make the intolerable work. We fled hurriedly, like characters in a fairytale, leaving behind my roses, writing shed, our good friends, but knowing it was time.
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I wanted my daughter to enjoy the childhood I had been privileged to have: a small village with chimney smoke fire and ethereal mist. A village where the trees stand guard and healthy-looking children  are surrounded by the changing seasons and a caring community. I wanted her to run free in the woods and not become part of the concrete dragon we had escaped. Without my Tasmanian midlands childhood, I could never have written Poet’s Cottage.
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I wanted Daisy at ten to have that depth of life experience. I was weary of smog and bringing in washing streaked black from plane fuel. The air felt as if it was choking our family and our life.
On the Taurus Scorpio Full Moon, we settled the sale of our house. The date was my birthday, 27 October, which was a mystical synchronicity to my family and rounded our city time perfectly, for the day we settled the purchase, all those years ago, was also 27 October. I see our current home in the mountains as a gift from the universe.
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I know this velvet silence will bring my current book to life. I delight in sitting on my new deck, listening to the sound of birds and watching ladybirds and butterflies as I write.
Blackheath Rhododendron Festival Queen for 2015 Eleni Vergotis

Blackheath Rhododendron Festival Queen for 2015 Eleni Vergotis

Being among the trees and gazing upon the panoramic mountain views feels like returning home. We now live in a village I have been escaping to for years and which I used as inspiration for my mystery novel, Currawong Manor.
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On my last visit here, I literally felt roots from my feet grow deep into the soil and spread outwards. I knew the time must be approaching that we would find our mountain home . Shortly afterwards, we did find her. She is a grand old mountains lady, a 1920s character weatherboard and I feel a deep joy every day to have finally, after so many years of yearning, to have become a part of this village and country life.

An Escape to Somewhere at the Winter Solstice

I love Winter when the sky turns to grey and a chill laces the air. We’ve been house-hunting, which has been a disruption to my writing. I’m a quarter of the way through my new book. It’s slightly behind, but the 1800s thread involves a lot of research, not being a period I’m familiar with.
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Life is challenging with several major transitions and changes still waiting to occur. I feel as if I’m in a frustrating holding pattern. But three things have remained constant: my love of reading, writing and nature. I greatly enjoy seeing the book emerge like a photograph developing. I just need to be patient and appreciate the fact that every book has its own timing and rhythm.
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So many beautiful things to notice when I slow down to appreciate their quiet blessings. Rain falling in my winter garden and its mesmerising lullaby on our tin roof. Bare branches in dark spiderwebs against the sky. Manuka honey and tea brewed in a gypsy yellow tea-pot while perusing glorious new book friends like The Cottage Under the big Pines by Susan Southam and Sally Mann’s photographic memoir Hold Still. Sourdough rolls dunked into homemade winter soups.
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Art deco buildings against a brilliant blue sky at the Winter Magic Festival in Katoomba.
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The Blue Mountains whose pulsating, shimmering energy never fail to remind me of the perfect pattern of all things when I gaze upon their mysterious vistas in challenging times.
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My beautiful daughter and the winter ocean in Sydney for reflective walks.
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Stories from other writers and my own words. Nights snuggled in bed with a variety of books.
Thank you for visiting and may the Solstice award you strength and vision for any transitions and challenges in your life and creative projects.
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Finally, this extract from Neil Gaiman’s talk for the Long-Term Thinking Project via the extraordinary Brain Pickings website. So profoundly eloquent and I really needed to hear his words as I’m sure many other artists do.  All Solstice blessings to you.
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Gaiman illustrates this with the most breath-stopping testament to what we endure for stories as they in turn help us endure, by way of his 97-year-old cousin Helen, a Polish Holocaust survivor:

“A few years ago, she started telling me this story of how, in the ghetto, they were not allowed books. If you had a book … the Nazis could put a gun to your head and pull the trigger – books were forbidden. And she used to teach under the pretense of having a sewing class… a class of about twenty little girls, and they would come in for about an hour a day, and she would teach them maths, she’d teach them Polish, she’d teach them grammar…

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One day, somebody slipped her a Polish translation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind. And Helen stayed up – she blacked out her window so she could stay up an extra hour, she read a chapter of Gone with the Wind. And when the girls came in the next day, instead of teaching them, she told them what happened in the book. And each night, she’d stay up; and each day, she’d tell them the story.

And I said, “Why? Why would you risk death – for a story?”

And she said, “Because for an hour every day, those girls weren’t in the ghetto – they were in the American South; they were having adventures; they got away.

I think four out of those twenty girls survived the war. And she told me how, when she was an old woman, she found one of them, who was also an old woman. And they got together and called each other by names from Gone with the Wind…

We [writers] decry too easily what we do, as being kind of trivial – the creation of stories as being a trivial thing. But the magic of escapist fiction … is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armour, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better… It’s a real escape – and when you come back, you come back better-armed than when you left.

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Helen’s story is a true story, and this is what we learn from it – that stories are worth risking your life for; they’re worth dying for. Written stories and oral stories both offer escape – escape from somewhere, escape to somewhere.

La Casa del Poeta and the Summer Blue

Normally never a summer lover, I hanker for misty mornings, gloomy rainy days and snow. But this year I cast aside my Scorpionic affinities for winter and embraced Summer. Throughout the holiday break we didn’t leave Sydney and although I sighed wistfully when viewing friends’ social media accounts of their holidays abroad, I enjoyed the hush in the streets surrounding our inner-city home – a break from the constant jackhammering on the building site next door. Instead we embraced more peaceful  streets that looked like they belonged in the 1950s, and a half-empty shopping mall. Throughout the lethargic summer days there was time to plan the year ahead and explore Sydney’s breathtaking beaches. A new favourite this year was Bundeena and also Cronulla. I loved this area where a vibrant mix of cultures gathered to escape the heat wave and enjoy the spectacular views of the popular surfing beaches.

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The school year is now well under way and my life is filled with notices, appointments, homework and in the midst of the whirl – writing my new book. I’m really enjoying crafting this mystery which once again examines the ripple effect of murder across three different time periods in a Tasmanian village. My agent is happy with the early chapters she has read.

 

Daisy writing at Cronulla

Daisy writing at Cronulla

 

Mercury Retrograde has ended and with its departure heralded welcome news from Spain. I adore Poet’s Cottage’s poetic and Cocteau sounding Spanish translation – La Casa del Poeta. The cover is one of my favourite interpretations –  so atmospheric and really conveys the story. I hope La Casa del Poeta is enjoyed in Spain. It’s always a joy to think of my Tasmanian murder mystery being read in different countries.

 

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Tomorrow we will spend five days on the Great Barrier Reef. With no technology for distraction I’m taking only a notebook, books to embrace the endless blue sky and sea. I can’t wait to feel sand beneath my feet and see some baby turtles being born. I’m packing here a massive amount of flowers for my hair, tarot and Angel cards – all the essentials!

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Thank you for visiting and I wish you creative and magical days.

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Love and Light,

Josephine

Secret Gardens, Mantras and Monsters

Leura is one of the prettiest Blue Mountain villages and Spring is the perfect time to visit, when the mountain air feels enchanted from the cherry blossom and jacarandas trees. As I said in my previous post, we’ve recently introduced our daughter to The Secret Garden book and film and so we enjoyed a family day out at the Leura Garden festival. A few photos below.

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We came away with plenty of ideas for our Secret Garden journal. Definitely a must in my Secret Garden is gatepost rabbits.

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A wishing well, sacred bells, Madonna figures and a drystone wall.

 

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I’ve been working on my current book, another mystery novel set in Tasmania. So far the characters are materialising beautifully and all the twists and main plot seem strong. I’m at the stage where I want to find out what happens and how it evolves which is the best place for me to be in. When I haven’t been writing, I’ve been catching up on reading. I’m working my way through the large pile of books in my TBR pile. I’ll do a separate post on a few I enjoyed over the holiday break.

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Along with my family I completed a course at the Transcendental Meditation Centre in Sydney. The TM centre is located in the striking AWA building in the CBD in York street. The communications tower was designed in 1937-1939 by architects Morrow and Gordon. It has a geometric art-deco design and also features symbols of communication such as a winged Pegarsus. The tower has been featured in the movie The Matrix.

 

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I’ve been meditating regularly for many years now but have always been intrigued by TM and the effects on the creative brain after reading David Lynch’s Catching The Big Fish (highly recommended book on creativity and abstract thought).

 

I’ve only been practising for a couple of weeks, but it has exceeded my expectations on how deeply you can transcend in twenty minutes. I was surprised by how effortless and easy the process is. I’ll write more on meditation and the effects on my creativity when I’ve been practising TM for a few months.

 

In Australia, we have celebrated the seasonal Beltane, but being Scorpio and fascinated by death and transfiguration, I view the 31st of October as the Day of the Dead – we enjoyed All Hallows at a friends in the inner-west suburb of Tempe.

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I volunteered to walk the children around the streets for a couple of hours which was surreal and dreamlike. In the darkened streets I passed witches, zombies, a live python, and excited children claiming the streets on the night the veils are thin and mayhem rules.

 

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Thank you for visiting me. Please share this post if you know of anyone who would be interested.

In Love and Light,

Josephine

Call for Grace

The school holidays have just finished in Sydney.
So disruptive to writing time, but my daughter and I embraced Winter days relaxed in Little Brick, enjoying the luxury of not having to concern ourselves with lunchboxes, uniforms and school newsletters.
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Thank you to WHO magazine for the following mention of Currawong Manor.
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And more thanks to all the online reviewers who are helping to spread my book to potential readers: such as this beautiful review from Monique at Write Note Reviews, who said:

Currawong Manor has everything I love in a novel – a decaying house creating a dark and oppressive setting (enhanced by the mountain location), a heightened sense of suspense, a slowly-unfolding mystery, and some sinister characters (including the house and the nearby woods). There are also secondary romantic elements, which add to the tension. The standout feature for me was the sense of place; because it was captured so well, it made me want to plan a holiday to the Blue Mountains sooner rather than later.

For those who love a good gothic-style mystery, add Currawong Creek to your to-read list – I highly recommend it. I’ve added Pennicott’s 2013 novel, Poet’s Corner, to my to-read list.

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Thank you, Monique. The rest of the review can be read on her review site HERE. I was most taken with the fact she used a painting from Frederick McCubbin, The Lost Child  as I was working with that image on an early draft of Currawong Manor. It also means a lot to me when I can make people long to revisit a place through my prose.

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I enjoy the inner-city when its hub is momentarily hushed as the exodus begins from Sydney on holidays. But I admit, to some envy as I watched friends heading off for overseas holidays.  I reminded myself that sometimes the most cherished holidays are when you discover your own city anew and that having unstructured days is of great benefit to children.
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I remember holiday breaks when I was a child, that seemed to last forever – no playdates,sleep overs, activity centres, and extra tuition in everything imaginable booked in. Instead we explored our own backyards, became terribly bored and began to create with the material we had at hand. I wrote books I never finished on an old typewriter, formed clubs with imaginary friends and read books I longed to read and wasn’t interested in, but I’d already read everything in our house and library. Boring your children is so important and undervalued in this overstimulated time if you want to help your child’s imagination to flourish.
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Captain Josephine Pennicott and her pirate crew on the harbour

Captain Josephine Pennicott and her pirate crew on the harbour

With harbour side trips and unstructured days behind me, I’m now busy working on my present book which I’m very excited about. I’m back in Tasmania for this one and it’s 1950. After all the recent events in the news, it’s a relief to immerse myself into a more optimistic decade.
The New House - John Brack 1953

The New House – John Brack 1953

Thank you to all the support for Currawong Manor on my Facebook pages and on Good Reads. I do value your comments and cyber-word of mouth.
Keeping good company. Thanks to Amelia for the support on Instagram.

Keeping good company. Thanks to Amelia for the support on Instagram.

In early June, I announced a Giveaway to celebrate Currawong Manor’s release. I have put all the names into a hat and selected a winner from the large amount of entries received.
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Congratulations to Vivienne Martyn, you  will be receiving a signed copies of both Poet’s Cottage and Currawong Manor, a set of Daily Guidance Angel Cards and a Russian Red Mac Lipstick all to the value of $120.93. Thanks so much to everyone who entered, signed up for my newsletter, shared the post and helped to spread the word. Your support is always so appreciated!
A few more photos of my recent High Tea via Better Read than Dead’s Facebook page:
Guests at the High Tea examine my notebook

Guests at the High Tea examine my notebook

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Josephine Pennicott signing Currawong Manor

Josephine Pennicott signing Currawong Manor

The world seems such a grim place at the moment. As Neil Gaiman tweeted:
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Feeling absolutely helpless in the face of the madness and violence of the world. I’m making things up to keep sane. I’m in control there.

I share his despair. So many sadistic and cruel things have been occurring to so many:  but in the darkest of times, artists and storytellers are even more vital.
So feel the pain, but keep working, blaze your fire, call for grace.
If you have enjoyed this journal post, please share with your online friends if you think they would be interested.
Love and Light,
Josephine xx

BIG DREAMS, BRUSHES WITH FAME AND MIRACLES FOR CHRISTMAS

‘Though a great deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.’

– Thomas Hardy

As I write this on a sunny day in Sydney with dappled light showering our inner-city street, cicadas competing with the traffic noise and overhead planes, gum trees a wash of green against a brilliant blue sky, Angelina Jolie has just finished directing a scene near our house for her new movie Unbroken.
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Regular readers will know my fascination with comparative religions. The reason I’m so excited that Hollywood has come to our area is that Angelina is directing a scene in my local church. This church is a big part of our family and has formed the fabric of our lives here for the last decade. My daughter was baptised there and before my father died, he flew over to give me away in my Alice in Wonderland meets Carnaby Street wedding.

Unbroken being filmed at our local church

Unbroken being filmed at our local church

In an area bursting with the politically correct/hipster crowd, the church has been a sanctuary to me for years. I’ve seen it go through many changes and several priests, but the current priest has been my favourite for many reasons. The reason I mention Angelina is that it’s proof of how life can bring unexpected twists and miracles in ways you can’t imagine. And how ‘real life’ can be stranger than fiction and any movie. For years we’ve battled with church costs (the roof fell in a few years ago) and in one swoop – thanks to Angelina – those costs have been considerably bumped down. But I could never have expected that’s who would have fixed our church roof. Not even my imagination would have dreamt that scenario.

Extras in period costume cross the street for Unbroken

Extras in period costume cross the street for Unbroken

My daughter went to school yesterday morning with a little piece of paper in her pocket, for an autograph in the unlikely event she bumped into Angelina. She walked past crowds of extras dressed in period costume and the big movie lights trying to spot one person. (She loves her because she has tattoos.) We are relieved that this small brush of celebrity is with a person as inspiring as Angelina. It is heartening to point out photographs of Angelina and Brad dressed up for movie premieres, but then also be able to talk about her humanitarian work and how she has used celebrity and her beauty and talent as a force of good in the world. Everyone that had contact with her raved about how unpretentious, down-to-earth and friendly she was. I was also very delighted to see on the weekend in Sydney she went shopping with her children and bought books from local bookshops – a reminder to all to buy BOOKS this Christmas. As Christopher Marley said: ‘When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink and glue. You give him the possibility of a whole new life.’

And so Angelina Jolie is our little Christmas miracle and if you see Unbroken, know that the church in it has been my oasis of quiet contemplation for the last decade of my inner-city life.

The beautiful and inspiring Angelina Jolie

The beautiful and inspiring Angelina Jolie

I have finished my edit of Currawong Manor.
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On Monday, 2nd December at 12.30 am I pressed the send button and Currawong Manor went across the city back to Pan Macmillan. I felt enormously depleted, emotional and empty. I’ve loved working with my artists for so long and it’ s always hard to let go of my characters. I’ve spent years in their company. I feel so empty without them all and wonder if anyone will care for them. Where do these characters come from? They come. Sometimes quickly, but sometimes they are furtive and hide themselves behind other characters. Or they are too coy to appear at once, and you know they will come another time and book.

You spend years with the ones that do appear. You grow to know them more intimately than you do most of your neighbours, and friends.

And then they are gone. Released with the SEND button to a waiting editor and publisher in an office across the city and you are left alone, crying with exhaustion and wondering why you push yourself through so much for so many years to meet a being who is as real as a dream.

Divine madness has descended for years – if you are lucky – and then it moves on and you are left feeling abandoned by your own creation.

You sit and wait and hope the muse will bring you another story. You wait and ache and start to spin the web.

I’ve now begun work on my new web. and loving feeling the new characters appear.

Poet’s Cottage continues its tour around Europe and here is the beautiful cover from Dutch publishers HERE Fingers crossed that the Dutch will enjoy my Tasmanian sea-fishing murder mystery. It never fails to excite me to think that our family holiday inspired a book that is now selling internationally.
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In November I appeared at the Newtown Festival for Better Read than Dead in the Writer’s Tent with the always inspiring and dynamic Kate Forsyth.

Josephine Pennicott and Kate Forsyth

Josephine Pennicott and Kate Forsyth

I also attended the New South Wales SWITCH Library Awards dinner at the Star Room in Darling Harbour, sponsored by Bolinda Audio alongside some of my agent’s authors. Here is a photo of writing friends Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis.

Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis

Belinda Alexandra and Karen Davis

I travelled to Melbourne for the Sisters in Crime annual Scarlet Stiletto Awards. I can’t enter anymore as I’ve won two shoes (the legal limit!) so this was my first year as a judge. Congratulations to all shortlisted entries and to the winners. You can find a full list of winners HERE.

This evening was the 20th Anniversary of Sisters in Crime at the boho glam Thornbury Theatre and so I was delighted to be a part of the celebrations. Angela Savage wrote a lovely article on the history of the red shoe, A Dagger With A Difference, which you can read HERE.

image via Sisters in Crime

image via Sisters in Crime

The beautiful and talented Essie Davis was the host and guest speaker. You may know her as Phryne Fisher in Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, or from many other wonderful parts she has played. I remember Essie from our Hobart days at Rosny College together and so it was a joy to be able to connect with her again. In the photo below you can see her hugging me.

Sisters in Crime with Essie Davis on far right

Sisters in Crime with Essie Davis on far right

When Tasmanian girls reunite

When Tasmanian girls reunite

Essie was always a person you knew would be Someone. She claims she was a dag at Rosny but I can vouch she was always super-cool and super-talented. I was also pleased to have the chance to hand her a copy of Poet’s Cottage as when Pearl Tatlow came to me, I often daydreamed over the years if Poet’s Cottage was ever made into a movie, Essie would be perfect to play Pearl. Yes, I know that seems like big dreams, but if Angelina Jolie can pay for our church roof, I can believe in big dreams and miracles. And on that note – I wish for you all the big dreams, miracles and surprising twists in your life that you could NEVER have imagined in the season of light ahead.
And it wouldn’t be a Christmas blog post on Tale Peddler without a gratuitous Johnny Depp photograph.
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Thank you for visiting me. Here is the divine Mediaeval Baebes with the glorious We Three Kings.

Love, Light and Peace. May you find the best of the Holy Season within your own heart.

Josephine xx

Deadline

I am on deadline for Currawong Manor and so this October post written on All Hallows will be brief.

Life has been frenetic, frantic – days and weeks a blur of my daughter’s activities, her dramatic and colourful life entwined with the darker mysterious world of my characters in their Blue Mountains home in the 1940s. I juggle the two worlds, attempting to keep my attention equally on both, a task which seems impossible at times.

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I have to mention this anthology, Award Winning Australian Writing 2012, which my short story, Shadows, which won last year’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards appears in. I’m proud to be included with so many skilled writers. You can read more about it HERE
And also this beautiful cover of Currawong Manor (called Daughters of the Storm) in Germany published by Ullstein. On Twitter I posted I saw a beautiful butterfly nearly as large as my hand fluttering outside my garden writing shed , enjoying the bougainvillea and yellow roses. I wondered what he was a sign of and a couple of days later, he turned up on my book.

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A highlight of the month was:

We saw A Murder is Announced at Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay. I really enjoyed all the cast and Judi Farr made a perfect Miss Marple.

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A reminder that on Sunday the 10th of November, I’m appearing with Kate Forsyth in the Writers’ Tent at the Newtown Festival. Details here.

I am trying to focus, to turn inwards. The deadline like the witching hour draws nearer.

Thank you for visiting me. xx

Flashy Spring Shows

Hello,
I love September, as in the Southern Hemisphere, we are in Spring. The Sydney air seems to pulsate joy and magical possibilities. I’m on another editing deadline for Currawong Manor, and so updating my blog before I lose myself too much into the threads of my Blue Mountains artists. The rose ladies in my courtyard garden are putting on a colourful, flashy display and creative ideas for more projects are also flowering within me.
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I attended the Davitt Awards in Melbourne this month, for which Poet’s Cottage shortlisted. Although I didn’t collect an award, I had an excellent night with my Sisters in Crime and was thrilled to be a part of the audience when Kerry Greenwood received her well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to all Sisters in Crime below who took out major awards.

Lifetime Achievement Award Kerry Greenwood
Adult Fiction Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan Macmillan)
True Crime The Waterlow Killings (Pamela Burton, Victory)
Children’s and Young Adult Fiction The Tunnels of Tarcoola (Jennifer Walsh, Allen & Unwin)
Best Debut Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute (Maggie Groff, Pan Macmillan)
Reader’s Choice Award Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man (Kerry Greenwood, NewSouth).

Josephine Pennicott and David Levell

Josephine Pennicott and David Levell

Ian Irvine and Traci Harding

Ian Irvine and Traci Harding

Traci Harding and Josephine Pennicott

Traci Harding and Josephine Pennicott

I also attended my agent Selwa Anthony’s annual Sassy Awards, always an interesting event. Here are a few snaps from the evening. Unfortunately, I had an infected eye which kept me from rocking the dance floor, but it was fun to catch up with long-time writing friends such as Belinda Alexandra, Ian Irvine, Traci Harding, Stephen Irvine, Anna Romer, Richard Harland. Writing in isolation, the Sassies are a reminder that you’re not working alone, and you are in fact, connected to a larger industry web. Along with an infected eye, Scorpio in Saturn wasn’t benevolent to me. After a few wines with friends, I managed to drop a cup of tea on my laptop. Disaster! Here is a shot of my beloved, covered in rice in a vain attempt to absorb the moisture.
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Polka dot posers at Luna Park

Polka dot posers at Luna Park


View from Luna Park

View from Luna Park

If you are ever suffering from the blues and live in Sydney, I recommend an outing to Luna Park. Take your real child, or your inner-child, and inhale all the exuberant energy and joy that to me represents Sydney. The location by the sparkling harbour ensures your senses are constantly assailed by gaiety and brilliant scenic blue views.
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The adrenaline rush you get from the rides ensures you don’t have time to waste worrying over trivia – you are only concerned with surviving the next ten minutes.
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I have to concede that if you have a fear of heights like yours truly, braving the Ferris Wheel in gale winds is probably not perfect timing to teach your daughter about facing fears.
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I made the trek to Luna Park (and risked my spine on the Tango Dancer and Spider) as I have a brief scene in Currawong Manor featuring the iconic Sydney location.
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Back to my edit for Currawong Manor. And if you are around for the Newtown Festival, I am appearing with Kate Forsyth in the Writers Tent. More information on that event HERE. Thank you for visiting me. Keep creative and keep sparkling. xx

The Misty Blue

Hello,
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I’ve returned from the mountains after a blissful week with my family. I roughed out some early drafts for my current mystery novel, which is an idea I’ve nursed for a couple of years. I have a title for this one and some early images, so feel very optimistic. My agent was also keen on the idea, so that’s coming together nicely. The mountains was a haven of winter sunlight, air spiked with goodness and the beauty of peace. It’s shocking to experience how differently you feel when your senses aren’t bombarded by constant traffic and aircraft. We bushwalked, slept a lot, read in front of the stove fire, explored the antique shops and it was all heaven. I also caught up with a couple of friends in the mountains including Kim Wilkins aka Kimberley Freeman who was on a research trip for a forthcoming book. It was very difficult to return to the city and the abruptness of a new school term.
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I’m currently working on a coming-of-age novel that I’ve been tinkering around with for several years. I am very much in love with this project.
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I’ve been reading a lot and catching up on books I’ve had on my ‘to-read’ list. The Somnambulist, a truly wonderful Gothic Victorian mystery by Essie Fox. The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, Citadel by Kate Mosse and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I do plan to do some proper reviews when I get a chance. I’m getting very behind with my reviews for Australian Women Writers.

I’m pleased to see Poet’s Cottage is on the long list for the Davitt Awards for mystery and crime writing. Even more thrilled to see the list had a record number of entries. 63 books have been nominated this year which is a statement that mystery and crime writing is booming in Australian publishing.
And I’m also thrilled to know that book clubs are enjoying Poet’s Cottage. When I get a chance I’m planning on creating a website with a book club section. I was contacted on my Author Facebook page this week by a lovely lady who is taking a walking tour to Stanley this weekend as her book club is reading the book in the nearby town of Wynyard. I couldn’t think of a more spectacular back drop for a book club meeting.
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I love this recent Vogue cover featuring Sofia Coppola. Sofia was one of the inspirations behind my character Elizabeth, a photographer in the present-day thread of Currawong Manor. I needed somebody who was powerful, but in a gentle, soothing type of way. I’m a big fan of all of Sofia Coppola’s movies.
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I finally caught up with The Great Gatsby (probably the last person in Sydney to see it). I saw it with Artschool Annie and we both relished the painterly interpretation that Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin brought to the book. It made me feel like re-reading The Great Gatsby.
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And thank you to all who entered my Giveaway both here and on Facebook. It is now past the full moon and so as promised I have drawn a winner. Congratulations ROBYN JONES. Please PM me your address and I shall post your books to you.

Johnny Depp meeting Dr Gayle Dine’ Chacon from the Navajo nation while filming The Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp meeting Dr Gayle Dine’ Chacon from the Navajo nation while filming The Lone Ranger

Thank you for visiting me. Keep creative. I hope you enjoyed the full moon period. It’s a favourable time to rid yourself of everything holding you back from achieving your dreams.
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xx