Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and Celebrate the Light


Wishing you all a Merry Christmas/Summer/Winter Solstice season wherever you are in the world. I believe life should be celebrated and I love ritual. And so this time of year never fails to make me happy. I have the Summer Solstice and then following close behind Christmas. On the Summer Solstice I decorated my backyard with candles and shells to cast my wishes and secrets to the universe. And at Christmas, I shall be watching as my daughter perform as an angel in the Christmas Mass.

I've listened to far more runs of the Chipmunks singing Jingle Bells than any sane person should, but I still love this crazy season. Here's a selection of some of my favourite Christmas albums below. I love seeing The Wishing Tree in our local shopping centre heaped with gifts for those less fortunate and my daughter's joy in selecting a Barbie doll for a little girl to place under the tree.

The harvest is stored. The light is returning.

I have a fridge stocked with essentials such as Tasmanian cheeses, figs, French Champagne, and nostalgic treats such as Milk Tray and good old frozen chocolate Bavarian. The latter treats are essential as they always make me remember my old Nanny.  We have queued for three hours to see Santa at David Jones but the end shot was worth the wait. And the window display is always a joy to witness.

We  made a Christmas pudding and chutney. Once again, the amazing Jamie Oliver has got me through with his organised approach to Christmas. This DVD is highly recommended.

Family, friends, feasting and celebration of new life - it's a glorious time of year. The air feels sprinkled with pixie magic dust.
Merry Christmas to you. Celebrate life, light, family, and home. And in the eloquent words of Charles Dickens:
'I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come around - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave."

From A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

vintage christmas images via google image search

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fabbo Friday and Lady on a Train for Christmas Telly

Lady on a Train is a great 1940s movie that I highly recommend for Christmas. It's a mystery which stars the wonderfully perky Deanna Durbin, lover of detective novels and witness to a murder whilst on a train. Yes, shades of Agatha Christie here but a lighter romp than anything the Duchess of Crime came up with.

It's a lot of good fun and is set in New York at Christmas time, making it an ideal Christmas flick.

The movie had the potential to be a lot darker in a Daphne du Maurier or film noir way but it plays it safe with a good frolic. But still, totally fab viewing and Deanna wears some out-there hats throughout.

Deanna also performs a beautiful version of Silent Night which, as Bill Collins said, is well worth watching this great old classic for.

However, Mr Collins failed to mention in his introduction on Foxtel that one of the stars, David Bruce, bears an almost uncanny resemblance to JOHNNY DEPP. And he plays his character like an early Ed Wood. Bruce plays Wayne Morgan, the very likeable and slightly bumbling mystery writer who Deanna's character, Nicki, enlists to help her solve the murder.

 I'd love to see a remake of this one starring Johnny Depp as Wayne Morgan. And so in place of my usual Johnny Depp image today, I shall leave you with a photo of his early doppelganger (see below).

Enjoy your weekend as we head towards the Summer Solstice and Christmas. xx
images source

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and Allison Dubois Talk to Me

Recently I went with a friend to see Allison Dubois (world-famous medium who inspired the hit TV show Medium) work her craft in front of a Sydney audience. We were VIP members which meant we got to meet Allison first, have a chat and she signed our books. We also chatted with other VIP members of the audience which was a hoot.

My friend and I were lucky enough to sit next to quite well-known Australian psychic, who went straight into an impromptu channelling session for both of us, pulling out a pack of Tarot cards shortly after we introduced ourselves. This psychic was a total character. Larger than life and very entertaining. (I was very happy with hearing a large sum of money was on its way as you can imagine.)

Then Allison Dubois entered and the mood swiftly changed.

She introduced herself in a very Sassy, way with 'don't ask, if you don't want to know because I'm good.'

My hand was in the air instantly. I wanted to know the works. Were my books going to sell well? How about the health problems of my father? Our house, were we going to move to the house of my dreams?
You know. All the questions you want reassurance to and would love to have answered.
Then Allison began asking who was present for murder or suicide and my hand started to sink back.
I shortly realised that out of nearly 200 people, some who had children die, some who came seeking answers to why loved partners killed themselves, some who wanted to contact deceased fathers. My questions on my book weren't going to cut the mustard.

There was an enormous need in the room and I can only say Allison did her best as a tiny-sized woman to fill it.

She sat with a pencil in one hand, a slight look of concentration on her face as a person (picked from the audience by her husband Joe) asked their question. Then Allison would contact the dead.

In the audience, we were left gasping and clapping many times at the accuracy of what Allison was getting through for people. Sometimes it was words that the dead person used to always say: 'You are my princess. You'll always be my princess.'

Sometimes it was definite instructions: ' you can stop wearing my shoes now’ to a young boy who had come about his father's suicide and was wearing his boots.

She replied to questions on whether a death had been suicide or murder and also the one murder case channelled a new possible lead for the person who had come seeking closure.

In the audience, we wept many times watching the living reach out to their dead. Yet there was also a mood of celebration as if there were spirits around overjoyed to have found a way to communicate.

The overwhelming theme of the night was Fathers. There were many daughters who had come seeking a message from their father. They were very poignant channelings. Allison herself has lost her father which she writes of so movingly in her books.

Yes, I'm a believer. I don't know exactly who Allison Dubois is talking to but I do know that she is receiving accurate information from somewhere.

It would be wonderful to think that the dead still have an interest in us and are around in us some form, although I don't know if it's quite the form that people think of.

Allison claims after death you revert to the person you were happiest as, and so people often present to her with perfect teeth and at an age they felt happy. Suicides revert to childhood a lot, which is interesting.

I've already spoken to my parents about getting a message through to me when Allison returns, if they happen to depart into the spirit worlds in the meantime.

And Allison is a very spunky, totally sparkly lady. The sort of person you feel you would like to go for a drink with and hang out for awhile. She wears killer shoes and seems to be a no-nonsense sort of person.

I liked her a lot. I was just a teensy bit nervous meeting her because I've heard she can see if you are about to die or have serious health problems. She didn't seem to react when I met her. Except she laughed a bit. I don't like to think too much on that one...

You can read more about the lovely, Ms Dubois here and her books are highly recommended.
allison dubois image source
medium image source

Monday, December 13, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Kate Morton Never Gave Up

Kate Morton has been a huge international publishing success. Her books sold in the millions to 38 countries. Recently she was interviewed by Mariella Frostrup on one of my favourite shows, The UK Book Show with Nigella Lawson and another guest. She has struck publishing gold.

I've known Kate for years as we share the same agent the wonderful Selwa Anthony. Below is a photograph taken at the Sydney Launch of Kate's debut book, The Shifting Fog (released in the UK as The House At Riverton). This photo always makes me smile as it looks as if I"m trying to rub some of Kate's success off on me.

From left: Kate, me wearing the purple chook feather, Kate Forsyth (who has previously written an Inspiration post for Tale Peddler), and the very Sassy Leigh Redhead.

The reason why Kate is my pick for an Inspiration post is not her great success but rather her tenacity. She had previously written two books which were both turned down by publishers before she wrote The Shifting Fog.

I just love stories like this. I believe when it comes to writing, you have to have the hide of an elephant and be able to pick yourself up off the floor after many crushing disappointments.

We all know stories of people like JK Rowling, Louisa May Alcott (who had to work as a servant when Little Women was being floated around) or Stephen King (Carrie received 30 rejections before it went onto enormous success). The English crime writer John Creasey received 753 rejection slips and went on to publish over 500 books.

I know personally how tough it can get in the world of publishing. You can spend years investing all your being into one book that can go nowhere.

You can possess the talent, the discipline, the marketing appeal, the best ideas in the world in spades. But if you don't have tenacity and determination – well, publishing is a game of snakes and ladders, often with more snakes on the board than ladders.

You have to keep rolling that dice, stay pure to the work and never give in. If you need a dose of stamina power, here's a link to an article of some great souls who refused to give up.
Enjoy your week. Keep creative.

Flops are a part of life's menu

and I've never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses."

~ Rosalind Russell

image of Kate Morton Source

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fabbo Friday and Exciting Spaces

This week in the steamy heat I went to meet my editor at my agent's house. I wrote about that HERE at the official writing Blog. But speaking of books with beautiful covers, I am mad about the new Frankie book SPACES.

So much loveliness it makes my heart ache. It's filled with inspiring, creative people and their lovely spaces. People like Allison from Lark, Emily Chalmers from CARAVAN and Tif from Dottie Angel. All the pretty, whimsical, retro-twisty you would expect from FRANKIE.

It is now time for Mangos, chilled grapes, sun-hats. The streets are already so hot you melt a little when you walk.
I have to keep my head down and work very hard on my edit which arrived this afternoon via courier. Next week however, I am having a private audience with Allison Dubois from Medium fame, so I'll try to pop in to tell you about that.
In the meantime, I'll aim to keep the writing Blog updated.

Thanks for visiting me and here's another Johnny Depp image to see us into the weekend. xx
Johnny Depp image source

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and Drinking the Well

I've been involved in pursuing spiritual adventures for quite a long time. I've walked on fire with Stuart Wilde's Warrior Wisdom course. I trekked the Ashram path in India and stood next to faith healers in Manila. I've sweated in sweat lodges, spent countless hours in churches and danced Sufi, and around cauldrons. I've seen many impossible things. I follow a very electic and unusual path at times when it comes to spirituality. My father describes it as 'going down strange fox-holes' I put my interest in varying faiths down to my early upbringing in Papua New Guinea where there was a lot of magic practised by the locals. Reports of people being raised from the death, telepathy and spiritual healing were all common.

This weekend I went bush with a group of women to pursue Secret Women's Business at a retreat in NSW. It was a glorious weekend as I had been feeling very burnt out caring for my daughter, writing books and domestic artistry. My battery was running low. I wasn't happy with my stress levels and was finding it difficult to breathe properly at times.

I feel very different now. As the facilitator of the weekend, Suzanne, said, "The Wise Woman drinks from the well first." This is similar to the instructions on aeroplanes when the oxygen mask drops and mothers are advised to take the oxygen first before sharing it with their children.

I made new friends and reconnected with old. We sat in circle and shared of ourselves honestly. We broke away old conditionings and found a freedom in that ancient practice. Some of it was straight from scenes I might have mocked in my earlier books. Passing a crystal wand and discussing menstrual cycles with a total stranger is easy to be cynical about, until you find yourself in circle doing just that.

We revealed ourselves on multiple levels and found a new inner wisdom. It was a time I shall always treasure. I won't go into more details as Secret Women's Business should remain Secret Women's Business. But we have so much to learn from the traditional owners of this land. And from now on, I vow to sip from the well first.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fabbo Friday and Fab books

I love books (in case you hadn't realised by now). There's no greater pleasure than a new book that smells wonderful, contains a gripping story or beautiful photos. Two of my favourite new friends are:

Kirstie Allsopp's Homemade Home. I was mad about the series and so had to preorder this one. Not only am I a Kirstie fan but this book is even better than I expected. My photographs don't do justice to the lush layouts and all the beautiful images within. It's filled with all the loveliness you would expect from Kirstie. Wallpaper hints, op-shop hints, crafty tips. And it smells totally divine.

Selina Lake's Romantic Style is totally my style.

Again my photos don't do this very beautiful book justice. My eyes aches with all the fab, frilly photographs. Look at this image!

Now that's my idea of heaven. A stack of beautiful vintage books seated next to a vase of divine flowers.

And if it's a scary ghost story you are hankering for as a break from the prettiness, you can't go past The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It truly did give me nightmares and the character of the doctor was superbly done in my opinion. I'll write more about this one on my official writing Blog. I'm a great lover of a gripping ghost story and this one really captured me. It was our book club's choice and not everyone enjoyed the slow pace – but for me it was a perfect read.

For loveliness around the Blogs this week, you can't do better than my Blogging friend, Carla Coulson. Carla has written and photographed some of my other favourite books such as Italian Joy. I love her work. She has been very kind to Tale Peddler and often pops in. I was delighted to see on her fab Blog that she married recently. You can see more about her work and life HERE.

Signing off for another busy week with the ever romantic and pretty Johnny Depp. xx

image of carla coulson source
image of johnny depp source

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and Foxglove Spires for sale!

Regular readers may remember how much I love the book Velvet Pears by Susan Southam. I posted about it HERE. The loveliness of Velvet Pears ensures I can't read too much of it in one sitting as I get so worked up. I feel a kindred spirit toward Susan, the author who transformed a simple weatherboard house into Foxglove Spires. And so I was gob-smacked when I saw Foxglove Spires is for sale. Although there were a couple of tiny hints in Velvet Pears that Susan might sell-up one day and move on, it's always sad to see a house that has been so loved and transformed lose its owners.

I hope somebody beautiful buys it.

Somebody who understands, as Susan did, that you have to be silent and allow the house and garden to dictate its needs to you. Somebody with the poetic vision and romantic heart of Susan Southam.

I'm a lover of bricks and stone but this weatherboard house with its fairy-tale garden would tempt me if I had the cash.

I'm flat-out with researching Australian artists in the 40's for my current book. A joyful research project if there ever was one. Such a fascinating time in Australian art culture with so many wonderful personalities.

Thanks for visiting me.
image of Susan hanging washing source
images of foxglove spires source

Monday, November 1, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Delvene and Strop

As a little girl growing up in Tasmania, I had two television crushes: Jack Wild who played Jimmy in H.R Pufnstuf - and John Cornell as "Strop". Lordy knows why, when I look back on old clips and photos of him leering away in his swimming cap. I thought he was cute, however, so there you go. And I preferred him to Paul Hogan, the star of the show.

In later years, I came to admire both John Cornell and his wife Delvene Delaney (who had guest roles as a bikini-girl in The Paul Hogan show).

They were the first sea-changers in Byron Bay and so they were ahead of their time. And I always admire people who turn their backs on celebrity to pursue gardening, which is what Delvene did.
I still think both John Cornell and Delvene look beautiful and so I found the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly inspiring for the article on Delvene, who is now 59. Delvene represents a lot of things I love about the positive aspects of Australian women - their sassiness and a certain take-me-as-I-am attitude. And in my opinion, she's even more beautiful than in her ‘heyday'.
I recently celebrated a birthday and when a friend asked me if I minded ageing, I could only reply I honestly don't. It's far better than the alternative. I'm grateful to be given the chance to age.
Here's a little quote from the article from Delvene;
"True Beauty comes from inside, so I don't mind ageing, not at all. I don't look in the mirror and think, "Oh my God!" l look in the mirror and think, "that's interesting...oh, that's going to start happening now." That's okay - I love me. If you don't like the way I look. Look away.
When I look at my husband for example. I only look into his eyes. He's 70 next year, but he looks great. It was the same with my (late) mother. Did I look at her and see lines and wrinkles? No. I saw beauty. From October issue of Australian Women's Weekly.

Thanks for popping in to visit me. Wishing you a week filled with beauty and wisdom. xx
image source Delvene and John Cornell
image source bikini Delvene
image source Paul Hogan show

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fabbo Friday and Fab Holiday Books

Yes, I know it's not Friday. It's Saturday here in Sydney and a day that has alternated between sizzling hot to thunderstorms. I'm not a great believer in chronological time and so feel it's okay to post my usual Friday post today.
Apart from glorious nature and cute little cereal boxes; one of the other lovely things I adore about holidays is holiday reading. I put serious thought into my holiday book choices. I have to have more than one book, in fear I'll finish the first choice. The books have to be light but with enough narrative drive to keep me turning the pages. They have to be comfort books.
I got it right for myself this time. The Folio Edition of the complete Miss Marple short stories and a book that has sat on my shelf for ages - Belong to Me by Maria de los Santos. I remember reading about this one years ago. 'Literary chic-lit' they called it. It's a lovely read with really clever characters and a twist I didn't see coming. And The Rebecca Notebook & Other Memories by Daphne du Maurier. One of my old faves.

And Daisy's book choices are also below. They sort of count as my choices as well.

And the magazines I took were also spot-on mag reading for hols. The Australian Women's Weekly had a great article on ageing starring one of my favourites, Delvene Delaney. Plus a feature on the best cheesecakes. Country Style (to dream and sigh over) and Good Reading.

And my Fab Blog pick of the week is for this lovely girl's apartment on Apartment Therapy. I adore her clever use of space in her home and her love of pink and vintage feminine. I also could sigh over her shoe collection all week. You can see her home featured .
And signing off with the wonderful Johnny Depp.

Thanks for visiting me. xx
depp image Depp Impact

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and Misty Blackheath Streets

We are now home from the misty mountains where I travelled for research for 'Currawong House'. The trip was totally blissful. So difficult to return to gritty Sydney after the peace in Blackheath and very pretty Leura.
Bluebells and daffodils were everywhere and Blackheath kindly turned on a wonderful mist for us. Sadly, she kept the snow back until our return much to Daisy's disgust. We ate holiday type food, read holiday books, lazed and shopped in antique shops. I woke predawn everyday to write in my notebook, walk through dew-soaked grass and follow the Currawongs.

Since our return we have had drama emergency rushes to the hospital with Daisy. Our five-year-old daughter has the distinction of being one of the rare children with gallstones. Sunshine is soaking Sydney streets. I love this time of year when the terraces in the old streets seem bathed in light.

The book is forming itself. I feel the story beginning to rise like mist in Blackheath Streets.
Thank you for visiting me. xx