Monday, December 31, 2007

I loves you's all... darling darling.

My New year's resolution has worked in the past and will again this year. Should I tell you? Is it like the wishbone of the chicken, or wishing on a falling star? Does spilling the beans break the spell ... come to that is watching a full moon through a closed window bad luck? If you cross your eyes and the wind changes you stay cross-eyed for eternity? Well I'll be brave and let you in on the secret... spill the beans ... expose the promise ...


That's it. And I want to tell you. It works a treat!

Last night on a very very expensive harbor cruise I was part of one million people on Sydney Harbor to witness the fantastic 'Festival of Light'. The shores were lined with watchers, but I was privileged to be on one of the boats festooned with lights celebrating various significant dates in relation to the antipodean wonderland of Oz.

And I was one of one million people who made an orderly escape from the city after midnight. We all smiled. Drunks were not marring the footpath. It's nice when that happens.

Happy New Year everyone. Mine starts with a new anthology. Check out Romance Spinners. You'll find the link up in the corner. It also starts with a new blog that will be more frequently used by members of my critique group, RWU. This is the greatest bunch of support-groupies I've ever had, and I treasure the talents and the friendship of each and every one of them.

So from Coward's Castle, 'Baby', His Lordship Hewhoshallbeobeyed and myself...


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Welll my darlings...

It's almost Christmas. Cowards Castle is going into ultra neat mode. WE are the mein hosts of the day, for a rather diminished family.

My son, is in London. He who has the wisdom and knowledge of the beastie inside the computer - the philospher - the dreamer I wish him more success in the pursuance of his dreams.

My daughter, will be with us. She the daughter of her father. Practical, sensible, quick, smart, adorable, with the personality of such that radiates.

My husband, best friend, putterupperer with my nonsensence antics.

My sister, she who spawned three offspring, none of whom she shall be seeing on the day for varying reasons, far beyond her control. All those taxi fares to various sporting, academic and talent on Saturday morning, and none of them coming home for Christmas.

My Brother in Law, dear sweet man, who will be the driver on the day and tuck into one Scotch.

My mother. Oh my mother. My dear sweet as lemon mother who is no longer the mother I knew but some character who dwells inside a soul drifting in and out of dementia and delusion.

Me. One of my friends once named a queue of celebrities with which she was interacting. (with whom? oh well you know what I mean) "And then there's me," she said. I wonder if that's how we all feel. And if we don't then I don't quite know if I like the person that doesn't have a little of that essential humbleness. The "and then there's me"ism. People who don't possess it have huge egos. And jackboots.

Merry Xmas to all of you people who don't read my blog. May your Christmas be full of the joy of the season, your families gather around you, may you also eat too much and just enjoy the fact that for one day of the year you forget your diet and enjoy the moment. I intend to enjoy myself and forget about the sillyness of my day to day life and the futility with which I pursue this little piece of human folly.

The snow is falling around. Drifting in layers on the footpath. Icicles are hanging from the eaves and thin wires of smoke drift up to the clouds from chimneys all around Sydney. Official lie.

But the truth is, this Xmas eve:

The Fish Markets are full of shoppers. They are queueing up for hours on end to purCHASE kilos of very large king Prawns, lobsters, fish, crabs, Balmain bugs, etc. YOu see Australia is usually barbecue territory during Xmas. If Santa comes, he's probably not wearing the official Coca Cola sponsored red suit.

The shops are madly scrawling to service the crowds of last minute masochists.

But moi. We went to the fish markets last night at 1.00am. WOW! Piles of fish. Who eats it all. Yet apparently we do.

Happy Xmas every body.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday 13

I'm late. Yes. My Baby has been discovered to have a heart murmur. I got the news and it bowled me over. But here's my Thursday 13 (which I haven't even decided about yet to let you in on a deep dark secret)

Okay I've decided. Things I hate.

1. Revving motor bikes that creep up on me when I'm driving.

2. Why do dentists and doctors think they can make me wait? Like if I'm late for an appointment I apologise. Have you ever had an apology from a doctor who is running late?

3. When two lanes turn into one lane. Usually this works in society. He goes, she goes, he goes, she goes... people just merge. But you get a smart arse that has to roar along to the absolute n'th of the merge and barge in. I like to stick my nose in the air and take up two lanes like an old witch.

4. People who walk on the pavement as if they owned it. Don't mind if you need to stop and talk about the shopping you've just done. Don't mind the fact that I might be in a hurry. Just take your time and I'll be patient.

5. Zebra crossings. Give a pedestrian the right of way and they'll sneer and jeer at you. They are waiting just for you. They like to pick on you because it gives them fun to walk slowly in front of you. Suddenly they jump in front of you. London is the worst place for these.

6. When somebody has just been rescued out of an avalanche. They are barely alive but they are saved. And along comes the journalist. "Are you glad you've been saved?" Huh? Is there some 'it' I'm not getting here?

7. People who say that is 'exactly right'. I'm missing something here too. It's right of wrong. Is there some grey area nobody has told me about?

8. Have you ever come up to the lights and had the "window washer"? This is a dreaded creature who comes along and without your permission simply takes it upon himself to wash your windscreen. Get out of my space person. Go make somebody else's life misery.

9. Cocktail parties. Yes I hate cocktail parties. "Hello I'm Zara Penney."
"Pardon?" "Zara Penney, my name..." "Hello, nice to meet you." "Pardon?" "Nice to meet you, Harry Belafonte." "Pardon?" "Harry Belafonte." "Nice to meet you." "Pardon?" "Nice to meet you." "What do you do?" Pardon? "What do you do." "WRite." Pardon? "I'm a writer. What do you do?" "Pardon?" "Sing." "Pardon?" "Singer." "Well it was nice to meet you." "Pardon?" And the canapes have just gone past at a hundred miles a minute.

10. Politicians. "How long is it since you laid straight in bed?" "Mmmmm that's a very interesting question. It reminds me of my mother's granny who used to crochet her cardigans. She always used blue wool because..."

11. When I lived in Hong Kong, there used to be a department store. They had 100 percent employment there. And every shopper had their own nag. This is an assistant who follows you around and every time you pick up an article, then put it back, they'd straighten it, check it to see you didn't leave fingerprints or spit on it... so much for browsing in that free spirited mood of the lonely shopper searching for the perfect - oh go away!

12. The nanny state. The politicians in my life seem to feel they need to tell me how to do everything. Leave nothing to chance. Example. I had to have a fence around my swimming pool. It had to have a special gate that locked in such a way that the child, who never came to my house, wouldn't drown because they never came to my house. Yet out in my front yard was a very busy road? Is there something I'm not getting here? Did somebody say why while I was at the supermarket?

13. By now you have worked out that I'm a grumpy old lady. If you are the one who is throwing coca cola cans into my paper recycling bin on rubbish night then go get nicked!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Today I found

myself talking to my new puppy in baby bark babble.

"Woofy woofy woofy." in a high pitched slightly retarded falsetto.

Eat your heart out Tiny Tim.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Parlez vous etc.

Today I had

a gogo

1. Internet
2. Washing

and Chinese to gogo

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday 13

This can get hard but I had recourse to use some French words today, and I thought mmmm... I do spatter my spoken word with a lot of French, don't always know how to spell them when I write them down. So here's a few of my most used ones...

1. a propos

2. c'est la vie

3. comme, comme ca - imagine me waving my hands around as I say it.

4. deja vu - it's hard to remember the spelling though.

5. encore - I like them - en masse ;-)

6. de riguer - I use this a lot.

7. faux pas - oops. but it's a fait accompli

8. joie de vivre - yep that's me.

9. piece de resistance - but the only problem I have too many of them

10. raison d'etre - why, for haute couture, of couse.

11. Rive Cauche - in a bottle.

12. Cause celebre - entre nous ;-)

13. Panache - that's a very me thing.



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh dear

"Whom are you?" he said, for he had been to night school.
(George Ade)

I took a speed reading course and read WAR AND PEACE in twenty minutes. It's about Russia.
(Woody Allen)

"I used to keep my college roommate from reading my personal mail by hiding it in her textbooks"
(Joan Welsh)

"Shut up," he explained.
(Ring Lardner)

The last one is for any of my crit group. Knew it'd rile 'em.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Xmas Cheer

If you want to see something to make you smile and feel some small cheer, then click on the link Xmas Card

Merry Xmas everyone.

The it's about time I blogged blog...

Coward's Castle is full of the love of a little dog called 'Baby'. I tried to call her Avery, but somehow 'Baby' is winning. Put it down to one of those funny syndromes closely related to eggless nest but He Who Shall be Obeyed and She Who Forgets to Obey have both gone ga ga over 'Baby'.

I'm on my last chapter on the WIP but don't seem to be in a hurry to finish it. I think I'm suffering from character withdrawal symptoms. They've been my companions this last few months and I do like them. I don't really want to say goodbye so my muse said:

"Why say it?" She shrugged and like the floozey she is, she wiggled off into the void leaving me to answer into the air.

"Because every novel has to have an ending. Because I want my HEA. Because I want there to be life after WIP. Because I want to make new friends to take into 2008. Because I need to return to edit the long, long, long significant others." (That's me shouting at her as she retreats.)

But my muse is off in the distance and all I can hear is those spikey red high heels as she slinks off looking for whatever muses look for while they aren't musing.

Mmmm I am blinking at you empty audience. What a vanity of the bonfires this blog is. Laugh a minute eh?

Okay... I'm the last one out. I'll switch off the lights.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday 13

'Tis time for she, the lady of Coward's Castle, to don her thinking cap and blow the dust away as she settles it onto her golden (not) locks.

As she does so, she will look at new puppy on floor beside her - a tiny teeny tiny cute as a button Mostly Maltese x Shitsu. Mother is half and half, Dad's all Maltese. So I'll think of thirteen tiny things I love best.

1. This little puppy beside me lying fast asleep on her back. She's black with white paws. Has little eyebrows and a black nose peeking from a white rosette around her mouth.

2. Dolls. As a collector of dolls I am afraid that I have the most wonderful collection of shoes. I'm an impossible Imelda. In fact I make her look like an amateur. Did I ever show you some of them.

Well I will indulge you. It's up the top since I'm too dumb to remember how to insert it here. (Let's pretend heh?)

3. The baby stroller, carriage, buggy, whatever you call it. It was made by a friend.

4. The boy is Avery with an A. He's my little alter ego. He thinks you, since he can't talk. He has his own blog and if you can understand him, you are very smart. And that's his best friend Phoebelou.

5. The real Phoebe who when asked for a Santa List, she asked for Chocolate Milk. She's the most beautiful little girl in the world.

6. My crew. My muses. My dolls. One of them is about to be published in an anthology. Here's a picture of her (insert pretendy URL here but she's up the top because of technological idiocy) Sharra Akasha star of THE SECUREMENT OF GREGGIE DONALD. (See links for web site and blog)

7. Chairs. I have some beauties. They are made by a real upholsterer who makes them as miniatures. My dolls are 16-17 inches tall, they are not Barbie they are much bigger. (another pretendy insert here - yes up there, sigh) I made the lamp myself in case you are interested.

8. My darling little handmade babies. If you want to know the scale, the eggs are real.
(Yes you know the drill - lets call it IPPH = Insert Pretend Photo here)

9. Baby prams. Little ones for the scale of my dolls, not easy since they are 16-17 for grown ups while Avery is four and a half inches of energy... (IPPH) The pram is French and perfect scale for my dolls. Very hard to find and dates to 60's and 70's. It is sprung like an old carriage with leather straps.

10. Miniature food for the dolls. Yes. REally cute. For instance look at Avery again in his highchair. (IPPH)

11. Jewellery. Of course I've got a treasure chest of "sparklies" as Avery calls them. (IPPH)

12. Some white Louis chairs also in the scale of my ladies (and gents) (IPPH)

13. Thirteen is always a doozy. It's so hard to come up with this one because you've just about thought you'd come to the end... struggle through then suddenly the mind opens up with aflood - then you end up with another hundred or so favorites you've forgotten about... but here's the last for this list... it's Jozefina. She's a one of a kind handmade doll. Made by my friend Jozef Szekeres. I love her so much. She's entirely handmade. So lovely.

She's at the top. That's how the order of the pictures go. The bottom one is the number 2. Because I started with the puppy and I haven't taken her picture yet.

Did. Take a bow Penny.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thought I'd share this with the huge amount of people who don't read my blog.

It's by Clive James and it's called


The book of my enemy has been remaindered.
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized.
And sits in piles in a police warehouse.
My enemy's much prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book -
For behold, here is that book
Among those ranks and banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I rejoice.
It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion
Beneath the yoke.
What avail him now his awards and prizes,
The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,
His individual new voice?
Knocked into the middle of next week
His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys,
The sinkers, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
The Edsels of the world of movable type,
The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
The unbudgeable turkeys.

Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
Bathes in the glare of the brightly jacketed Hitler's War Machine,
His unmistakably individual new voice
Shares the same scrapyard with a forlorn skyscraper
Of the Kung-Fue Cookbook.

His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed in by others,
His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretence,
Is there with Pertwee's Promenades and Pierrots- One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment -
And (oh this above all) his sensibility
His delicate quivering sensibility is now as one
with Barbara Windsor's Book of Boobs
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
'My boobs will give everyone hours of fun.'

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been metered out
to the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
'To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error -
Nothing to do with merit.
But just supposing that such an event should hold
Some slight of element of sadness, it will be offset
By he memory of this sweet moment.
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered.
And I am glad.

(Clive James)

Guess this is poetry for authors

I'm back from overseas.

Back to Coward's Castle and sad news that the Silkie Terrorist is, sadly gone. He was a dog with a sad history. Free to Good Home. But he had so many bad habits - had had to be put down because other people were not able to live with he horror that this little beast was. If bite the hand that feeds that was Chester. He was insecure and could have written the handbook of dog behavioral problems. I still niggle that if I move my feet suddenly he will dive at them.

Zara also had a fall at the West Wing of the White House. Got more FBI picking me up than Bush ever did. She ended up with seven firemen, an ambulance, her very own fire engine LOL, and seven stitches. She went back but this time they closed the White House. Guess I'm on the Klutz Files.

I had a wonderful time. Las Angeles, San Francisco, up the west coast to Canada and Victoria Island, Seattle, New York, London. From London we decided to make a quickie to Paris, an overnighter on the train. One and a half hours from London, half an hour on the train, you sit in your car, then two and a half hours to Paris. This meant that we had late lunch opposite the Notre Dame, meandered the east bank and lazed through the evening. One of those cute Parisian style hotels, and back to London the next morning. Then:


Teeth went through my top lip hence the stitches. I am a spectacular faller. Problem is I am a dreamer. And dreamers don't watch where they are walking.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday 13

Late. Running to catch up...

13 things she sings:

Why have I chosen this? My mother used to sing lots when I was little. She did it anywhere. She had a good voice, but my God, I cringed together with my sister when she did it. She’d sing them over and over and over and over and over again. I learned them off by heard from the day I gave up a pacifier until I left home. Are we ready?

One and two are relics of my aunt’s wedding. My mother sang at the wedding. Sheesh. I still remember all those words, and knowing my mother, I’m pretty sure the quality of the pronunciation isn’t very sound.

  1. Panis Angelicus (My aunt converted to marry her Catholic)
  2. Ave Maria. (My sister and I did a mean little harmony on this one)
  3. Camelot (and I suppose all the leaves fall into neat little piles)
  4. My Fair Lady Carousel
  5. Porgy and Bess
  6. Carmen Jones (the Dorothy Dandridge version with the boxer)
  7. High Society
  8. South Pacific
  9. Kiss Me Kate
  10. Sound of Music
  11. The Pyjama Game
  12. West Side Story
  13. Guys and Dolls

(Oklahoma, The King and I, Kismet)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

So how does it feel to be an overnight success?

Great. Absolutely great. You wake up in the morning. Stretch your limbs a bit. Have a good old scratch and contemplate the success you are. How the book got written from midnight onwards. You hardly felt a thing. It's the stuff fairystories are made of. And you are Cinderella!


There's no such thing. There's hard work, and rewards.

I'd hate to be an overnight success. Because without the hard slog. Without the knowledge that the top of the heap has another side to it where do you go from there?

Just thought I'd ask.

Coward's castle was invaded by Greeks yesterday. They say beware of Greeks bearing gifts, but one of them was a birthday girl. So I just thought I'd let you know it's a stupid saying.


Zara Penney

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Umpire

This morning, at Coward's Castlel, heard this day on the radio.

This is it. This is the final straw that broke the camel's back.

It seems that the Roman male stays beyond his useby date with Mama and Papa. In his thirties, Mama feeds him, and washes his clothes. She's long since been used to never asking him where he goes when she's not being subservient to him. She's even making his bed.

So the economy is collapsing under the weight of this kookey cuckoo.

The Italian Government is going to offer tax incentives to leave the nest.

As of today's date I have heard everything.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Coward's Castle is clean...

The lady of the house spent many long years growing kids, keeping house clean, homework, shopping, washing, ironing. School projects last minute (groan) and I managed it. I guess I was young and also, when it all has to be done, it just gets done. How many times did I pull out the ironing board at two a.m. and start. I could no more do that today than fly.

And I don't have to. The kids are grown, and both living away from home. And now it's me, hubby and the doggy makes three. And...

There's Anna. That fine lady who comes to clean my house each fortnight.

I'm always a little ashamed at my housekeeping skills. I really envy people who just seemed to stay on top of dustmites and dark corners. But I'm good at writing. I love it and couldn't live without it. So I do what I'm good at. And bless Anna. So does she. She's just left my house so lovely and clean. Like walking into a top class hotel and seeing all those sparkling bathroom tiles.

God bless you Anna.

Now I go back to writing. Goodnight from Coward's Clean Castle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

For some obscure reason long forgotten:

I, Zara Penney, do solemnly swear that from this time last week I shall thirteen, Thursday and diligent be:

So direct from Coward's Castle comes this delightful piece of wit, written by one of my favorite people Jonathan Swift, who also happened to be a personal friend of one of my ancestors...

Twelve Articles (wait - patience is a virtue)

1. Lest itmay more quarrels breed
I will never hear you read.

2. By disputing I willnever
To convince you, once endeavour

3. When a paradox you stick to,
I will never contradict you.

4. When I talk, and you are heedless,
I will show no anger needless

5. When your speeches are absurd,
I will ne'er object one word.

6. When you furious argue wrong,
I will grieve and hold my tong.

7. Not a jest, or humorous story,
Will I ever tell before ye:
To be chidden for explaining
When you quite mistake the meaning.

8. Never more will I suppose
You can taste my verse or prose;

9. You no more at me shall fret,
While I teach, and you forget;

10. You shall never hear me thunder
When you blunder on, and blunder.

11. Show your poverty of spirit,
And in dress place all your merit;
Give yourself ten thousand airs.
That with me shall break no squares.

12. Never will I give advice
Till you please to ask me thrice;
Which, if you scorn reject,
'T'will be just as I expect.

Thus we both shall have our ends
And continue special friends.

13. With such sage opinions
I will try hard with my minions
To adhere to all these things,
And to the happiness I expect it brings.

The 13th was me adding on to the man who has reached out to me from the centuries. He died in 1745 after having been born in 1667.

(bear in mind that in french minions is darling - but it does rhyme.)

Monday, October 1, 2007

The plot police

The plot police have arrested me. I am hostage to a plot! I am usually a pantser. Coward's Castle operates on Happy Accidents.

If you bake cakes please rescue me.

[From the plot jail]

Sunday, September 30, 2007


At last I've been degusting.

It's not for the faint hearted. Make sure your cc is up to date or you end up washing dishes. Or in debtors prison begging the guards for more straw to sleep on.

Imagine a restaurant of entrees. (He who should be obeyed mentioned that entrees don't always mean the same thing to all people so to clarify things, we are talking first course - the bit that has the dozen oysters in it.)

When I go to restaurants I invariably find they have a wonderful first course menu. They usually can be interesting and imaginative. When the menu planner gets to the main course, they get bogged down in the 'jus', the 'marinad of' whatever is fashionable at the time. What can just be a yellow arches hamburger can be transformed into magic like:

Tender yearling (notice we don't mention moo cows) beef molded into delicate cakes infused with free range ingredients, combined with delicate shavings of tender baby lettuce, vine grown hand picked (by a Mexican refugee on under rate wages) tomatoes, cheese from New Mexico Jersey and pickles nurtured in the sunshine of the Colorado desert combined in a delicate jus of fragrant Heinz ketchup and Mayonnaise de la cuisine.

So I therefore go for a couple of entrees rather than get bogged down by these stuffy mains.

Therefore Saturday night was a change for the positive. It has an Italian name, and they call themselves a grazing restaurant. They have a formula which expertly explained by the waitress - in our case a very charming blonde in her twenties. The menus contained things like:

Barramudi rolls.
Baked Haloumi with ginger jus
Soft skin crab in sweet chilli.
Pork belly something or other which was quite delicious.

One is instructed to order two dishes per person. And there are enough on each plate for the participants to share.

He who should be obeyed, who also eats a lot at restaurants was very pleased with the standard of the food and the service. She who should obey was very impressed by the prices. The food was good and the wine was the equivalent of the annual budget for a country that starts with "the Democratic Republic of".

Over all, the concept is new, but invented by me because I already entreed extensively throughout the world. (Two entrees is far more interesting than one main.)

Company was good. A fine night was had by all.

And then the next morning I plotted. Yes. Plotted. I'm basically a panster but this current novel needed a bit more pre-planning. And also these days unusual for me but I got it all down with a pen and paper. Also drew a map of the surrounds (shades of Winnie the Pooh at Pooh Corner, or J.R. Tolkien???). Have been using a house plan during the whole of the writing of current WIP but decided I needed to cement the surrounds into something solid. Enjoying my characters too. Don't forget that as the reader reads a story, so does a writer imagine it. Bit by bit. But once the book goes into print, we are simply treading the same pathway - author and reader - hand in hand through the same adventure in wonderland. I just get to be the leader.

Today is windy. We in the antipodes are coming into spring. Time to sow the seed, which was performed by He Who Should be Obeyed. Begonias and other little garden blessings. Little babies being nursed in a garded all freshly turned with a delicate blend of soils probably some poor old scalped volcano somewhere. And amply supplied with nutrients from same yielding yearling who laid down their short lives for a very large golden arches.

"Oh my darling you degust so delightfully," he said. "Why I'd even say you are a weapon of mass degustation!"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

By George! She got it

I knew the word started with a g! I just know the word started with a g!

And that the dictionary was wrong, wrong, wrong that the word I wanted wasn't there...


degustation. degust... to taste, to relish, to have a relishing taste.
degustate, to degust.
degustation, the act of tasting.
degustatory the act of tasting.
Latin source is de, (down) and gustare (to taste)

Romance writers of the world jump for joy. If you are game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Darling, do I degust you?"

"Yes my sweet nothing. You degust any time, any place."

And so she did.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I went turfing.

Never thought I'd be a turfie girl. But I am. I've turfed today and it was fun. It's easy.

We are a long way from the turf. It was quite a drive. But it's so picturesque on the way there. There's an old barn and farm house on the way. They recently used it for an advertisement - a funky one, that has humans growing as seeds, like triffids, with their shells yielding white cotton.
It leans on one side. Must have been there since before the 1900's and I bet it's seen it's own little share of history down the decades. Births, deaths and dramas.

Back to turfing.

Turfing isn't fun when you get home.

Oh heck what are you thinking?

I know.


I bought 11 rolls of turf for Coward's Castle. He Who Should be Obeyed is getting Spring Fever for the garden. He's a buffalo man in case you wondered. He swears by buffalo grass. It's tough as boots and there's a new variety called Shademaster, which basically means you can plant it under trees.

When we shrank our lives into a castle instead of a palace, we left the chandeliers and the billiards behind for the new Lord and Lady of that Mannerhouse - we can fit our grass into the back of a Subara which is the current estate wagon.

When weeds grow in our little castle they look as big as trees.

Took the navigator. She's called Julie. She's a few grams short of a kilo - and I don't know but I think she is trying to kill me and keep He who Should be Obeyed all to herself. We are a little bit jealous of each other. She is the only one who he let's nag him about where to go. Wouldn't you be envious?

Anyhow. That's been my day.

And tonight we go to an unusual restaurant. It's where one doesn't eat but grazes apparently. I've been trying to think of the darn word all day but only get a -g- idea in the back of my head - it's not Asian, but you kind of share a magnitude on the table... bit like a Tapas or an Anti-pasto but it's a meal. It's in an 'eat street' so it'll probably be funky. I hope it's not sit on the floor. Since my multiple leg break I avoid Japanese set-ups. (or set-downs)

So as I bow out of today's blog guess what tune I'm humming...

"Hey there turfie girl..."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday 13 at Coward's Castle

Taken on the tag challenge at Coward's Castle.

Thirteen things I can never find in Cowards Castle.

A pen when I need it. People always ring me when they know I don't have a pen or paper. Therefore their phone number to ring back gets written on an envelope, the tv times - it was easier when I was a smoker.

My shopping list. It's a miracle if I remember to take it. But the odd times I remember it, I can't find it. Leave it in the car. Wherever it goes it ain't to me.

Car keys. Alas it's true. It's a miracle whenever I can find them. I must say though that the inventive places I lose them in I should be admired for. Or something like that.

Socks from the washing. Somewhere out there in the Land of Sox, are the mates to the ones that decide to stay at Coward's Castle. A lot of divorce goes on in my washing machine. It's a Fischer and Paykel. Maybe if I tried another brand?

Scissors. I keep buying them. They keep going missing. Is there some message I'm supposed to be comprehending?

Filing. I am in charge of filing in this house. Bills. Warranties. Accounts. Insurance details. So why is it that when He Who Should be Obeyed turns to me and says:
"Can I have a copy of..."
My blood runs cold as an arctic winter (writers say things like that - cold isn't enough) and I know... I know... that even though it was filed IN THE RIGHT SPOT at the time, that I'm not going to be able to find it. He Who Should be Obeyed has once again zoned in on the one thing in my system which is not immediately available. And he turns self righteously to She Who hasn't Obeyed and says:
"I don't know. You couldn't run a chicken raffle"
(But then; Who in their right mind would want to run a chicken raffle.)

Shoe. One of my weaknesses is SHOES. I never get ready to go anywhere until the last minute. My internal wiring won't allow me to be a careful person who plans everything in advance. I pack at the last minute for journeys. I only remember the shopping list after I've left home. So I'm in a hurry to find the other shoe out of the pile in my wardrobe. I love my shoes but my shoes hate me. The minute the wardrobe door closes they all scramble to have illicite swapping parties.

Photo. I know I've got it. I know I do. So where is it? Where is that photo I only just filed? Where is it? Where is it? Why can't I find it?

Glasses. We play chasies all day long.

Book. I have a huge library. I know every single one of them. They are my friends. I know I can google but there is nothing like a book. I cannot borrow a book. I must have it. I must have it in my library. It must be there. I cannot use a library. I cannot be trusted in a library. I am one of life's possessors. So why the hell can't I find what I'm looking for? I know what colour the jacket is. I know exactly where it should be but isn't. But gets back to it's spot when I am not looking for it.

DVD. So I'm in the mood for it. I want to watch it. Imust watch it now. They are all filed in alphabetical order. One of the few orderly things I do in this place. So where is it now? I cannot compromise. The more it's missing the more my desire to see it. So where is it now?

Internet Passwords. Including this one. One of the hazards of modern life is passwords. I try to keep the KISS method. For those of you who are not aware, this is a basic system. Keep it Simple Stupid. But the demand for variance is increasing.

Oooh phew only one more needed. This 13 thing ain't all that easy.

Well the daddy (or Mother) of all losing is my...


Monday, August 13, 2007

August August

The windy month is a month of happenings. First of all it's my mother's birthday. That is August in itself since without this event, I would not be here trying to thing of August things to say.

The second major thing is that it is also the month I renew the car registration. And am reminded of the greed of those that purport to govern my life, tax my kishkes, and remind me that without the four wheels on which I depend so much, I'd have to rely on public transport which they can't run, despite the amount of taxes I pay.

And the third major event is the deadline for THE SECUREMENT OF GREGGIE DONALD. A story set in Scotland of 1678 to be included in an Anthology of six authors. The work was the result of an invitational from the editor, and will be published before the year's end, in time for Christmas. As an emerging author of adult fiction, it is virtually the birth of Zara Penney. The start of her own adventure.

This was an adventure aided and abetted by a wonderful group of talented authors in a tiny institution called Romance Writers Unlimited. Without them the adventure would have been just that much more difficult. Just that much more uncertain. So as I sit here, with the edited version about to be sent back to the editor I realise there is something that will be missing from the manuscript. The acknowledgement.

I raise my glass to RWU and those of you, each of you within the group, with grateful thanks. Every single one of you has had an influence in the way I shaped my words, the way I shaped my story, and even the way it came to be published.

Zara Penney,
Coward's Castle.

By the way. Coward's Castle desperately needs a butler. Good help is so hard to find these days. Everybody wants to be a doctor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Life versus Author

It's there. An inch away from us. The world within and the vastness of the universe without. Dogs need to be fed. Coward's Castle needs to be seen to. The butler quit so the lady of the house has to deal with all the vacuum cleaner salesmen who swim the moat to bother her.


I'll be back guys and gals in my head, in my world. You'll get your chance to carry on with your adventures, your escape from my head onto pages of sharing with others.

If you google me, you'll find me on Amazon.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mmmm another bloggy day

The heater is on at Coward's Castle. The doggies are laying by the fire. Its a slightly muggy cloudy day, with a weak and wintry sun. Sydney in winter is full of that lovely smell of firewood burning in heaters. There aren't too many of them so it's not stifling. The deciduous trees have long since shedded and the non are full of birds being very possessive. Especially the Indian Minors although there also native minors which are hard to tell from the Indian ones.

I'm about to turn on my word programme and pull out the edit I'm supposed to be working on. I've done some critiquing in my group.

I'm working on three stories at once and feel a certain bit of excitement about all of them, but can't quite make up my mind which one I feel like writing on today. That isn't good because it can balk me and leave me unsure and undecisive. I have trouble focusing at the best of times.

I wonder whether to work on this...

Last night I dreamed I was in Manderlay again.

Daphne couldn’t help reciting these words in a hoarse, almost fearful whisper, as she looked up at the leadlight windows and multi turrets of the stark gray stone castle. Here and there it was coated by a shroud of greenery adhering with possessiveness over some of the walls, out of control yet softening the starkness. She shivered.

Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. It was one of her favorite stories. One of her favorite movies, and, as she watched the cab, tires scrunching over the gravel carriageway noisily, as it sped off. However;

She wasn’t so sure that letting it leave her at the mercy of what she would find once she knocked on the door, such a good idea. Too late. It disappeared behind the copse of trees on the long drive towards the gates and she turned back to the Castle Craeghe. Silence until she retuned her ears.

The sound of crashing waves in the distance renewed the shivers down her spine.

Wasn’t the wife found murdered in the boat sunk in the harbour? She hadn’t read the story or seen the movie in a thousand years but remembered enough of it to give her a bad case of the spooks and…

More shivers.

Her glance was drawn up to a leadlight window. A woman was watching her. She had black hair.

Geez. Mrs. Danvers!

The woman was not smiling and not hiding. She boldly stared down from her window and continued to keep the hairs on the back of Daphne’s neck standing like porcupine needles.

Trust you Virginia!
Or this

I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. It became almost embarrassing. There was something addictive about his face. Could’ve been the laugh lines at the side of beautiful green eyes. Could’ve been the cleft in his chin. A classic Cary Grant chin.

His neck was long with an Adam’s apple which bobbed up and down like the cork on a fishing line as he swallowed. He seemed bored, or absorbed in deep thought. Long slim fingers were absently twirling a crystal wine goblet. He stared into it – mesmerized. The golden liquid swiveled and glistened like a multi faceted diamond as it caught the light from the wide window beside him. The nails were groomed to perfection. If not groomed then he was just one of God’s most perfect creatures. God does do it from time to time.

Mmmmm he could be about forty. Maybe older. Yes definitely older. Let’s bump him up to 45. Salt and pepper hair was short and practical. He was the quintessential Polo Ralph Lauren man…


Score: Perfect Ten.

I looked around the restaurant. Mine were not the only eyes drawn like lustful greedy butterflies to the eighth wonder of the world. Sitting alone there at a white-clothed table. Maybe he’d been stood up? He didn’t seem too concerned about it if he had been.

What sort of man could he be? The mouth was generous. Given that my Mother considered herself a great judge of character - I’d lived a lifetime of warnings. Never go for a shortie with a mean mouth. This mantra had seeped into my life. No matter how much I tried, short men with mean mouths were off my agenda. This man was the pinnacle of Mother’s eligible criteria.

I’m in and out of love every day. Men are on an equal par with shoes. I go to a movie and I’m in love with the leading man, Tom Cruise. Hell, I’ve even been in love with Frank Sinatra. And I’ve seen Jimmy Choo shoes I’d whore for.

But there’s a method to this madness of falling in love. With the exception of shoes, they’re all perfectly unattainable. That suits me just fine. I’m man-shy.

Why? Mother. She’s seeking eternity in the form of grandchildren.

I have loads of man-friends. There is safety in numbers. In fact I get on with men better than with other women. A couple of man-friends have attempted to cross the emotional border – but without success. One of them, Albert Johnson, was supposed to be here but at:

12.45pm… He was late.

Woops. Cellphone is buzzing. Darn thing is always falling to the bottom of my bag.

Albert Johnson. “Hi Albie.”

“Darling. Prude! I’m in Waterloo Street watching my car being loaded onto a tow truck.”

“You okay, darling?”

“Yes absolutely, darling. But I’m crying inside because you’d expect a Porsche to behave better. Darn thing just stopped. I’m going with it to the garage to see what I can do. Do you mind?”

“Mind being stood up?”

“I’ll make it up to you, darling.”

“I’ll think about it, darling. Bye.”

I looked at the glass in front of me. I’d ordered our special wine. Hunter Villa Chardonnay 2004. It was thirty Euros a bottle and I wasn’t going to waste it. I let the waiter top my glass.


And I was hungry… I tucked my bag further under the table and took my plate to the buffet. Did a slow stroll around the seafood section.






Oysters. Haven’t had oysters in ages. I picked up a dozen or so without really counting them. Added a couple of quarters of lemon.

He was still swiveling his glass. His eyes were wandering. We locked gazes as I sat with my oyster haul. I tried to unattach but he kind of locked me in. He let me off the hook by holding up his glass in a silent salute. I held my glass up then got down to business with the oysters.

Delicious. They were sprinkled with caviar.

Somehow my glass was empty. The waiter topped it up.


I checked the shells. All empty. I wanted more oysters.

Lobster? No.

Salmon? No.

Snapper? No.

Chowder? No.

Oysters? Definitely oysters. This time I exceeded my previous dozen. What the hell! There was nobody to censure me. Albert would have made some smart alecky statement about aphrodisiacs, but Albert was Absent.

The hunk was watching me. He lifted an eyebrow and smiled slightly. I squeezed a drop of lemon into each of my oysters. When I looked at him he was still watching me. Still swiveling that glass in his hands.

I dipped my fork into a shell, picked up the oyster and slipped it into my mouth. The lines at the corners of his eyes crinkled. He was definitely laughing internally at me. Or at least I thought so until it dawned on me as I enveloped an oyster into my mouth – the sexual connotations were enormous.

I tried to unsex the next one, but swallowing oysters is just plain sexy. Maybe that’s why it’s called an aphrodisiac. I tried to concentrate on the Urban Vista outside the window of the 14th floor restaurant but of course…

He was still watching me.


or this:

The chorus joined the stars in the last of their title song..


Because of her cameo performance she was able to step forward and receive applause of her own. Her eyes as glittered and her diamonds sparkled with extraordinary excitement. She looked about her over the vast auditorium – glancing out beyond the bright lights her smile wide, her face excited the diamonds glittering. It seemed she was seeking somebody. She looked up at the boxes and finally at his own Royal Box. It seemed that she…

She surely had…

His heart was pounding – he hadn’t felt like this in years – singled him out specially – she had…

Felt it too! The chemistry between them was mutual… she surely had…

Connected with him. His stomach tingled with anticipation.

The curtains closed. Catcalls and frenzied clapping begged the curtains to open again.



1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times the curtain opened on the cast, Sasha and other minor cast players joined the major stars and received each time their share of the enthusiasm in the auditorium.

On the sixth and last call the cast turned to Oskar and in unison bowed/curtsied.

Oskar stood and clapped, his eyes on Sasha D’Estelle. He was looking directly into her eyes. He felt,

Desire, mixed with…
Anticipation mixed with…
Lust mixed with…
Emotion, and…

His heart was beating with excitement as he was taken backstage.

He shook hands with …

The stars;
The director;
The conductor;
The choreographer;
Music director;
The set designer;
The costume designer;
The writer;

What about the chorus…

“What about the chorus?” he asked Richard. “I should meet them too.”


“What about the chorus?”

“Your Highness, we weren’t going to…”

“Mr. Moynahan, Richard. Why am I not meeting the chorus? They were excellent and especially the girl who sang a solo. I would like to tell them so.”

Moynahan’s face was so totally readable. Sure anything for this Prince and his wonderful response to the show.

The director was asked to get the girls. It wasn’t too hard – they were all in the dark of the wings watching the Prince – all too excited to let the thrill of a gala Royal Command Performance night go too soon. She was there in the middle.

“Cindy Brenner…”

Closer… He shook hands.

“Wendy Allport….”

And closer. He shook hands.

“Ginger de Witt…”

And the next one is…He shook hands.

“Sasha d’Estelle…”

The world stood still. She was as tall as he suspected. He didn’t have to look down too far to find those blue glittering eyes. She seemed…

Shy? She kind of glanced up at him from under her eyelashes.

He searched his brain for something special to say. Say something! Say something… His brain seized up, his tongue tied as never before and finally blurted…

“You have a wonderful voice, and you dance so well.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” she said then placed her hand into his. He glanced down at the long lovely fingers in his hand and rubbed his thumb across her knuckles. The skin was soft and lovely like a baby’s.

Then much to his own surprise and to all who watched on, he lifted her hand and brushed his mouth over the tops of her fingers. He caught a whiff of her fragrance. She was heaven and here in front of him. As he straightened and lifted his eyes back to hers he realized it had been an awful mistake and was immediately sorry he’d acted so foolishly. There was…


What a fool! What a blunder! This was not a good beginning!


I wonder I wonder. There are others that need editing but you see what I mean?
In case you are wondering about the large print in the last piece, no amount of editing on this blog would they disappear. The edit section of this site is c+r+a+p

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who said "bring the mountain to Mohommad"?

The Lord of the Manor has returned from the mountains and brought a mountain of washing with him. But...

Like Scarlett I won't think about it today. No. No. I won't. Today I am writing and shall brook no interruptions. After all...

Tomorrow is another day.

Just in case you haven't noticed (Is there anyone out there?) I've added links to my new little adventure here in blogdom. I'll be adding more but do go and see what talent there is out there.

Go on. Go! Go! Go look, but BUT


It can get lonely here in this dark space all by myself.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wherefrom art thou novel...

It's just after lunch at Coward's Castle. The lady of the manor is on her ownsies today. The lord of the manor is slipsliding down hills on white stuff called snow. The lady of the manor is slipsliding on white stuff called paper. His isn't safe during execution. Her's isn't safe after execution. He makes it to the bottom of the hill. She's only got a rejection at the bottom of the hill so she has to stay on top. Sigh.

I have been shopping in his absence this very Sunday and bought some comfy and cosie warmies to wear. Now I'm back at the computer, an edit in one hand (with a deadline) and a shortstory proposal in the other (with a deadline). And you, my little bloggy blog. New thing that you are I MUST TRY TO GET TO YOU EVERY DAY WITH SOMETHING WISE....

Okay. Be wise then and get on with it Zara Penney!

Where do my novels spring from?

I'm a great one for first sentences. I think of great first liners, first paras. I write them down and work my plot from there. I don't plot too much. The characters tell me where they want to go. And when I have been accused of plotting, ie., my characters have accused me of trying to play God, "MYOB and get on typing while we dictate" they shout not so politely.

So the only way I can save myself is to sit and think of a great ending. Something where the sad loud music makes my eyes water with emotion. I hear violins and the orchestra playing. Maybe that's not the best way to write a book, but it's how I do it. Otherwise I know I'd be stiff and unbending and probably miss out on some of the best scenes of my life.

I write most days. If I'm not I'm thinking about it. In my bag is a back up disk so that I never run the risk of losing all my "stuff" ever ever ever, even if the house burns down. When I'm in the middle of a full blown novel I think of my characters and they are my friends. People outside my head are a small diversion because there are real people inside my head.

Often, when I venture out of Coward's Castle to luncheon (yes it's what my mother calls it) with my mother and sister, they talk of little things like "did you see how much the cling wrap is at Kmart?" or "my neighbour's cat ate my roses" and I'm thinking to myself "will Rafe make love to Naftali now or later at the ranch" and suddenly look at my mother and my sister who are blinking at me and saying "what do you think?". Of course I don't think of anything other than Rafe and Naftali making love. Of course I can't tell them that's what I'm thinking. I can just see it. "Rafe? What sort of name is that?" (My sister would say that.) "Whatever happened to Harry or Tom?" Or my mother would say, "When am I going to read this?" To which I cannot say back, only when it's in print and you can't change anything or say anything. But I know she won't like it. She only ever read anything my father (the benign dictator) used to tell her. And now, since he died, she doesn't read at all.

So that's where my novels come from. Wrapped in a beginning and ending. I plot along the way. As I go. As I drive. When I wake up at night. (At lunch with my mother and sister.) In the supermarket. In the bank queue. I guess I'm not too much fun to be with but I can tell you,


Friday, July 27, 2007

Getting to Know you.

I've been on the internet for years now. And life without it is pretty damn awful. If I don't have access to it I get irritable, grumpy and start trembling with SIWS (Severe Internet Withdrawal Symptoms).

It's like my cell phone. How did life get conducted before cell phones? Did I have to write down what size gizmo I was supposed to get BEFORE I got to the shop? (And not ring the Lord of the Manor to ask what color he wanted.) And did I have to walk for miles to find which shop sells the gizmo? (As opposed to looking it up on the internet.) Was there life before Ebay? (Which begs the question is there life after Ebay?? - but that's another issue.)

I wrote a story set in 1951. It was so hard. I needed the internet and cell phone to conduct the heroine's life. And then horror! I had to grasp the concept - there wasn't even computer!

It would be easier to write a story set in 1860. I know there wasn't computer and internet and cell phones then. I know they wore crinolines and blushed at their heros and said things like, "Sir, you are not a gentleman!" such as Scarlett did in the library directely after sending a vase into oblivion over the sofa Rhett had been listening to her declaration of love to Ashley. BUT

1951 is modern. It's a time when television was a baby. When aeroplanes flew overhead ferrying passengers to and fro. It was a time when we all started growing up with the things we know today. Refrigerators, a car in the garage. Writing a manuscript set in this time demands a consciousness and some exacting research.

And it's also funny that I'm sitting here in Coward's Castle writing what I think today. What am I doing today... well if you want to know:

Phone call from friend. Her husband is going to have to have a hemerroid removed by operation. She's worried.
Phone call from neighbour. Coward's Castle might be extending upstairs. We share Cowards Castle in a terrace type situation in the inner city and will probably share the burden of misery, expense etc., of a second floor. (Need more space for the ancestral portraits, ghosts, dogs etc.)
Phone call from husband. Best snow since Global Warming was invented.

Okay that's the phone.

Emails. 10 today including two from good friends in Nigeria who insist on sharing their wealth with me. I'm generous to a fault. No I whisper as I sadly delete their kind offers. God bless you my friends but I insist you keep it all to yourself.
Critique group: A group of writers with whom I laugh, cry, commiserate and rant every day.
Look at boards of interest groups -( my hobby)

Edit a story called "The Securement of Greggie Donald" which will appear in an anthology before Xmas.
Article for a magazine in New York for which I write on a regular basis. I've been putting both of the above off until the last minute. But that's a very me thing. Deadlines make me focus. Far deadlines give me optimism and space.

And what's on my ipod? Mine is a pretendy one. The music is inside my head. It's the words of a song and it's from THE KING AND I. It's called:

Getting to know all about you...
Getting to like you,
Hoping that you like me...

etcetera etcetera etcetera

Thursday, July 26, 2007

13 things I really really like

1. Being in Coward's Castle. It's comfortable. It's where I play. It's where I let down my hair when I am not doing it at the hairdresser.

2. When the cleaning lady has just been. Before life gets in the way.

3. Putting the ironing away and knowing I don't have to think about it for another week.

4. Editors who love me.

5. Winning the lottery. No it hasn't happened yet but I'm an optimistic.

6. Winning an "I told you so" argument with the Lord of the Manor.

7. Travelling.

8. A good writing day.

9. A day when the internet behaves itself and lives up to every moment it was invented for.

10. A whole day of complete optimism.

11. Rain.

12. Browsing in bookshops

13. Driving

There are more, but they'd bore the pants off you. (She said as if these hadn't.)

13 things I really really hate

This was in response to an idea from fellow writer Gina Ardito. She got a few of my hates so I had to think of other new things.

  1. Economists. Mortgage going up because. Mortgage going down because. Dollar rises because. Dollar falling because. Hang on…

Why are they all the same reason? Are they making it up as they go?

  1. Even tho I have dozens of them spread around between car and house, I always end up at the desk without them. Reading glasses!

  1. Dialling…“We care about your call. For account details please press #1. If you wish to make a payment please press #2….”

  1. Phone rings in middle of the best paragraph you’ve ever written. “Good afternoon, how are you?” Somebody from New Delhi asks me from way afar India… I’m cranky thankyou for caring! Go away!

  1. Bank queues, bank charges and bank profits.

  1. Parking meters.

  1. Book sales with a foot deep pile of a title. I spend hours looking for crinkles and tears. I’m far better off with the last book which I’m grateful just to possess, even if I have to tape all the pages back inside the covers.

  1. Politicians. Nuff said.

  1. Men with remote controls.

  1. My bottom. There’s one that chases me through the dressing rooms of the world and attaches itself to the rear vision mirror. It’s not mine. Who ever lost it can have it back. Please leave your address here.
14. Okay so I'm going to cheat here. I hate roundabouts. They are growing like the plague. There are double ones and triple ones, and ones with plantations in the middle of them. Little old people drive through them at 10 ks or without their blinkers. People in hats think they can use any lane to turn anywhere at any time. Other people get lost in them. So on Thursday the 13 these were the top 14 things I hate today.

This is Coward's Castle

Lady of the Manor speaking.

If it 'twere brave she was, she'd be going skiing.
She'd be donning skis early morn on the morrow and 'sheeing' down sheer cliffs, the wind blowing freely through her bonny cheeks. Listening to the steam hissing through her mouth in her efforts.
She'd be dressed most fashionably in the latest, warmest of ski-gear.
She'd seek them here and seek them there. Bumps, moguls and goat's tracks down mountains steep.

Instead she's staying at Coward's Castle, alone. The lofty halls of the manor shall ring only with her voice and those of the ancestral ghosts. Unless one of the dogs barks.

And the Lady of the Manor shall continue writing her manuscript. Page after page of artistic torture which she shall be throwing at a publisher one day and saying:

Love me!