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!