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

Out with the Old

Hello,
I’m filled with celebratory winter cheer this weekend in Sydney.
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Yesterday at 4.15 pm I pressed the SEND button and watched my Currawong Manor edit disappear to my patient editor.
David returned from his week of swimming under a blue and mysteriously sparkling world with the Minke whales.
My short story SHADOWS which won last year’s Scarlet Stiletto Award for Sisters in Crime is in an anthology for Melbourne Books with other award-winning stories. I’m very honoured to be included amongst such prestigious company. You can read the details of the anthology HERE.
The recent interview I did with Tim Martain for the Hobart Mercury Saturday Magazine came out last week. I was very chuffed to make the cover page with my Agatha Christie inspired shot. The spread featured Poppy Gee and Livia Day who I recently appeared in Melbourne with for a Sisters in Crime panel. I shall put the jpegs up when I get a chance to scan them.

Josephine Pennicott Life of Crime

Josephine Pennicott Life of Crime

And my favourite, Johnny Depp also made the cover of Rolling Stone this week looking a whole lot cooler than yours truly.
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The Super Moon brought some unexpected elements to my life in the form of releasing aspects of my life that no longer served my highest good.

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

I am off to my mountains hideaway to spend some time reading, relaxing, writing in a notebook for my current novel, and watching birds in mountain winter skies. I hope it is misty and we are longing for snow.
Enjoy the waning moon. xx

Autumn

The Autumn sunshine in Sydney has been glorious but I was in the writing shed watching the dappled mellow light in my backyard. I’m happy to say Currawong Manor has now been cut from a massive 170 000 to a much trimmer word length. The process wasn’t as horrendous as I had feared; I could feel sparks begin to fly in the manuscript as I worked. I lost several characters but I already know they will re-appear in later books. Two of them were most insistent they had to go together, which was creepy because of who those characters are – but I can’t say too much about them without creating spoilers.

The hardest part was only having a month for the edit with my daughter home on school holidays for half that time. Thankfully, I had wonderful friends who took my daughter to the cinema, on excursions, and – being a Unique Enfant (only child) – she enjoys holiday care at her school.

Somehow it all came together and I’m very happy with the end result. Fingers crossed my agent and publishers will be too.
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On completion I felt as if a brass band should be playing and an auditorium of people screaming their praises to a soundtrack of Gladiator. In reality I had the school-run, lunches and everyday life to contend with. I did steal one precious day from the edit to take Daisy to the mountains so we could enjoy the Autumn light together.

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I’ve been reading some fab books lately. Katherine Howell’s Silent Fear, Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, Thea Astley’s An Item on the Late News, Jo Wood’s autobiography of her life with the Rolling Stones and the terrifying Poppet by Mo Hayder. When I get a chance, I shall write some reviews for them and post here. I am longing to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and UK’s Louise Millar’s psychological suspense books. I’ve also just started Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell which I’m loving. A great read for cosy Autumn afternoons.

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My book club, The Magic Hat read Thea Astley’s An Item from the Late News in our last meeting. I have to admit I had never read any of Thea Astley’s books before and I was surprised by what a page-turner and how darkly powerful this literary novel is. My full review is on Good Reads if you are a member.

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This is a photo from my friend Mary’s wonderful Facebook page, My Love Affair With Newtown. It’s a new coffee shop opening down the south end of King Street near the Union Hotel. It looks like a little dolls’ house and with the small space, chandelier and books, it reminds me of my own lounge-room in Little Brick. I feel tempted to paint my lounge hot pink. I think that’s going to be my winter project. Our lounge room is very small like this, crammed with books and a chandelier. Hot pink might make it more cosy than the Antique White it is now.

We were fortunate to see John Bell’s wonderful Henry 4 at the Opera House recently. I just loved it as the words are brought to beautifully to life by the excellent actors. It was such a fab interpretation with more hip to it than a boxed set of Mad Men. From the moment it began with electric guitars being thrashed as the stage set was trashed, it was a wild, eloquent ride though age-old issues regarding power, self-responsibility and family. Issues as relevant today as when Shakespeare wrote it. Here’s a brief promo clip from YouTube where you can get a sense of the majestic power of the words. A most inspiring night of theatre. If you feel blocked with your writing; this two-minute clip will help you get your groove back.

If you are on my Facebook you will have seen I was deeply saddened by the news story that broke in Sydney this week when Madeleine Milne, a 13-year-old schoolgirl who loved drawing dragons, being creative and helping others became the youngest ever recorded suicide in NSW due to a bullying incident at her school. Her grieving father went public with the story in an appeal to everyone – parents and schools – to communicate more and take the time to listen to your children. The pressures on our young people are enormous these days. When I was growing up there was always bullying but somehow we had the resilience to endure it. This was however before the media began to promote the mean-girl attitudes that are so prominent today. We live in a society that cushions children so much from all hardships (and even not-so-hardships – I was shocked to discover everyone now gets a prize in pass-the-parcel!) We leave young children on technology that contains messages and images their undeveloped brains may not be able to compute. I don’t have any answers as I’m only on my L-plates with parenting, but I feel we are letting our young people down terribly when children this young are taking their own lives unable to see any light in winter’s dark embrace. And Madeleine is far from the only child who has suicided over bullying. A quick Google search will show you other horror stories.

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If you do have children – please take on board this plea from Madeleine’s father:

“We all let our busy lives get in the way. The school was busy and didn’t get back to us, we were busy. I’d just say make the time.”

Fight back against the sexualisation of children and the mean culture in the media. Ensure your school has a zero tolerance to bullying and cliques. Help your child develop resilience rather than cushioning them against the inevitable crap and hard times of life. This little girl’s story touched so many people as it could have been any one of us with children. As one of my Facebook friends, Dianne eloquently said:

‘13 is such a violable age. They are full of promise and act tough, but they are fragile like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon. Handle them with care.’

Enjoy your week. As I wait for the next stage of the edit to return, I’m planning and researching my next book and also writing my Young Adult book that I’ve been having fun with for years in-between my bigger books.

And a gentle reminder that I shall be appearing in Melbourne in June 14 along with Livia Day and Poppy Gee for Sisters in Crime on a panel called Something Rotten in the Apple Isle. You can find more details of the event HERE.

And a lovely photo of Johnny to end with. This one is via the Johnny C. Depp Facebook page
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Thank you for visiting me.

Love Josephine xx

Winter Solstice in Sydney

A most frustrating week.

On the weekend I travelled again to the mountains, obeying the bush call to research and write. That was the high point.

My computer ate a bad frog and had to be rushed to the machine doctor AGAIN.

We had teacher’s day at my daughter’s school, athletics carnival and all the life interruptions that make it difficult for mothers who work from home.

We approached the Winter Solstice and I became overwhelmed with finding it difficult to live in the small brick house and became convinced I had to move right now and ran around househunting before facing the grim reality that the gentrification around us has left us stranded.

But I will plant a little offering in the garden and watch it grow. As Thomasina from Poet’s Cottage would snap at me, ‘Make Lemonade! ’

And in a most surreal night I attended a book club that was not my own and the book of course was Poet’s Cottage. It was a lovely night and the hostess not only lived in almost my dream family home (she had grown her own pumpkins and had proper sized rooms!) but she had named her chickens after characters from Poet’s Cottage!!  Here is an  atmospheric avante garde shot of the chickens.

And I was saddened to read about Johnny Depp’s split from his wife, Vanessa Paradis. Just at the Winter Solstice touched us.

It was a good week to remind myself of the following quotation which I posted on my Facebook Author page

The reward doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest, or the best. It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” —Dr. Robyn Silverman

, and here is a lovely photo that I took from the Facebook Vivien Leigh page of Vivien and Larry in 1940’s London. So much glamour and cool amongst the debris and chaos. So unflappable and as stylish as ever.

I loved the following quote taken from the same source that Noel Coward said about his friend Vivien. So tender and poignant really.

“Vivien, with deep sadness in her heart and for one fleeting moment tears in her eyes, behaved gaily and charmingly and never for one instant allowed her unhappiness to spill over. This quite remarkable exhibition of good manners touched me… very much. I have always been fond of her in spite of her former exigence and frequent tiresomeness but last night my fondness was fortified by profound admiration and respect for her strength of character. There is always hope for people with that amount of courage and consideration for others.” — Noel Coward

Thank you for visiting me. And in one final surreal moment of this Winter’s Solstice week, on a chilly and grey Friday I was contacted by the gardener of the real Poet’s Cottage in Stanley and he also helps out with Marguerite’s garden (who I partly based some of Birdie Pinkerton in the book). I was most impressed by Marguerite’s garden in real-life and so it was a thrill to meet the gardener behind that work of art. xx

Autumn Leaves

Hello,

Two months until my Talking Heads session at Newtown Library and there are now only 24 seats remaining. Thanks very much to all who have secured seats. If you are keen to come along please don’t dally – reserve your seat to avoid missing out. A group of my friends are organising a dinner in Newtown afterwards; if you’d like to join us please contact me either through my Blog  or via Facebook or Twitter. We haven’t decided on the location yet but it will be near the library.

And the link again if you would like to reserve a seat is HERE.

I’ve been in bed all day and only managed to drag myself out to collect my daughter from school, walking the city streets filled with golden autumn leaves. I’ve ripped my shoulder on the computer and so had to rest after a night of pain. It was a good opportunity for me to listen to Jack Canfield’s Momentum talk which was very inspiring and motivating. We’re now halfway through the year and so a welcome moment of reflection today on what I want to achieve in the second half of 2012.

from the blog Advanced Style

I spent years working in nursing homes and psych/geriatric units and I’ve always had a penchant for older people. I  felt very close to the character of Birdie Pinkerton in her later years in Poet’s Cottage. You can learn so much from the elderly and that’s why I’m a big fan of the blog Advanced Style. Look look at the character, wisdom and beauty in this woman’s face.

You just know she would be the coolest person ever and have an amazing life. At the other end of the spectrum you have this beautiful image that I swiped from Glow

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Just a few pretty images to go into the weekend with. Faces as individual and beautiful as the leaves in my street. ‘Where does your inspiration come from?’ A mother asked me at the school pick-up. I smiled because there isn’t a space, a leaf, a face from which I don’t receive some inspiration bounty.

There’s a storm brewing in Sydney. A heavy dark sky is pressing down as I write. I hope you have a beautiful and productive weekend, wherever you are. Thank you for visiting me. And look at Larry King’s beautiful purple braces.

Thank you to my friend Liz for supplying me with the link to Johnny being interviewed by Larry in his office. I do love a man in braces. xx

Dark Shadows

Hello,

On Tuesday, 31st July 6-7pm at Newtown Library I shall be talking with the lovely Gayle Donaldson. The event is called Talking Heads and is a combined Better Read Than Dead bookshop and Newtown Library event.

If you would like to come along please reserve a seat HERE.

Some topics I imagine we’ll be covering: mysteries, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, fantasy writing, crime writing, publishing, Tasmania, sea-fishing villages, families, bohemians, secrets, Johnny Depp. If you’re interested in any of these – or you feel like a free chat and a warm place to sit – don’t make yourself a stranger.

There are limited seats so please reserve as early as you can. Would love to meet you!

Here’s my reply to a question the Hoopla asked me regarding a heated discussion at the Sydney Writers Festival on literary awards going to books that readers can’t or don’t read due to inaccessible content. This came about as a comment from a panel Stella Rimington hosted where literary critics became worked up when she said literary awards should be given to books which are readable.

I’m paraphrasing the debate as I didn’t go to the Sydney Writer’s Festival because I was too busy writing. But I did add my piece to the Hoopla which you can find HERE.

Last night Art School Annie dragged me away from my edit to see Dark Shadows. Wow!! This move was so much better than I expected. Let’s not mention the last 15 minutes which really sort of sucked huge-time. But the rest of it was Tim Burton in fine form. The scene with Johnny and the hippies is sooo good and worth the price of the movie. I love that combination of horror and comedy and it really brought to mind the Manson family with the innocence of the late 60s, early 70s era when you could break bread with a vampire in the woods and not realise that of course he’s going to kill you. And I’m so in love with Michelle Pfeiffer (who gets better with age) in her 70s gear and jewellery. Michelle said in an interview that her sister-in-law made the jewellery for the movie.

I’ve never really come out of the 70s. It’s one of my favourite eras and so this movie was heaven for me. Tim Burton, 70s fashion, hippies, vampires, sea-fishing villages, Helena Bonham Carter, Alice Cooper and of course, Johnny Depp.

A perfect movie. Here’s a track from Dark Shadows to glide up all feeling groovy into the weekend. Thank you for visiting me. xx

Possum in Autumn Light

Amongst all the beauty of the Sydney Autumn light, Daisy and I found a very large dead possum in the street outside her school.
Belinda Alexandra, my writer friend and best-selling author, tells me I should have turned the possum over and inspected her tummy as she may have had babies inside the pouch. That’s a tip for you if you ever find a dead possum in your street.
 
Belinda is a goldmine of information on such issues as what to do with your constipated goldfish. I’m in awe of not only her scribe skills but her knowledge of and affinity for our native wildlife. Belinda works with WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service).
 If you see a dead possum and she has babies, you will know because her pouch will be swollen and you will see them moving around. Wrap the whole body in a towel and take the possum to your local vet as soon as possible.
I’m reading Belinda’s beautiful book Golden Earrings at the moment (along with a host of other research books for my current mystery). Ghosts, flamenco, ballet, civil war, gypsies. As with all of Belinda’s books, you learn a lot about life you may not have known before.
I’ve written about Belinda before on my old Tale Peddler blog and you can read that post HERE.
I love Autumn – feeling winter beginning to slink towards Sydney. There’s something so magical about walking the streets and seeing all the old lady terraces glow and shimmer in the light.
These photographs were taken as I went to collect my daughter from school today.
It’s comforting to know that at night, possums are dancing on my roof.
Thanks to this week’s WHO magazine, who described Poet’s Cottage as ‘a perfect fireside read’.
My favourite kinds of books are cosy fireside reads.
But just as Pearl’s beauty masked darkness and rage, Poet’s Cottage harbours horror beneath its elegant facade.’ – From WHO
Enjoy your weekend, keep creative. Thank you for visiting me.
And my beautiful friend Liz ran into someone special in Sydney this week or so she tells me…
 xx

A Story in my head buzzing hard

I spent a day lost in the magical light of Norman Lindsay’s home at Springwood.

Can you beat a drystone wall? I grew up loving them and they still have the power to charm.

Wandering into the bush with notebook in hand, it’s easy to believe Norman’s statues are luring you into another world.

A smaller magic outside my writing shed where my David Austin Prince rose proudly displayed its first bloom.

 

The  magical perfume so divine to savour. Hopefully a good omen for my current mystery novel.

 

And I must let you know of an event I will be taking place in for Better Read than Dead bookshop and Newtown  Library Tuesday 31st July . It’s Talking Heads with Josephine Pennicott. I know this is very advance notice and will update nearer to the time. Places will be limited but you can book through the library online or on  8512 4250. Would love to see all who could make it come along so we can chat murder, mystery, families, bohemians, secrets, Tasmanian sea-fishing villages, writing tips and a host of other fascinating topics. Here is the beautiful Newtown library I  shall be chatting in.
I’m really looking forward to seeing The Mousetrap in Sydney with the Sydney Theatre company performing Agatha Christie’s classic.
 I first saw The Mousetrap in St Martin’s Theatre with David in London’s West End and it remains one of my favourite theatre experiences. (Followed closely by The Woman in Black).
This week I also went to my bookclub at Better Read than Dead to discuss Craig Silvey’s feisty and wonderful mystery novel, Jasper Jones.

My daughter has just told me she has a story in her head and it’s buzzing hard. I know the feeling.
This weekend I am going to try to find some time to sit in the autumn sunshine with these two pink magazines I picked up today. I love the beautiful Christy Turlington’s feature in the gentlewoman (one of my favourite magazines).

This photograph of Johnny Depp was doing the rounds on Facebook and of course I cant’ resist ending this post with his sage and beautiful words. Thank you for visiting me. Stay creative. xx
Remember, murder lurks around every corner…