Friday, May 28, 2010

Fabbo Friday and Pixies, Blue Loos and Daydream Lily's Abode

Lately I've been shopping in one of my favourite places, EBay. Here's a few little treasures I've bought this week. Vintage wallpaper to cover a cupboard in my daughter's room. I love the little possums, pixies and koalas. Bunting for the outside of our writing shed (Sparrow Chateau) and for the kitchen in Cath Kidston oilcloth. And Pixie Tales, from Enid Blyton, a book I loved as a child.
And when it comes to fab and lovely Blog posts this week, it doesn't get much fabbier or lovely than the post Lucy from The Design Files did on Daydream Lily's home. You can see it HERE. Daydream Lily is one of my favourite places to visit for inspiration. Actually, Lucy's Blog is also fab as well. I love the 70's Sarah Moon, girly, whimsical vibe of Daydream Lily's abode.
The Scribe and I were both oohing and aahing over the office on this post from another King of Fab Blogs, The Selby. I love the creative romantic, boho, over-the-top vibe of this house where photographer Jamie Isaia and clothing designer Anthony Malat live. And I love the blue loo.
I'll be taking a short break from Blogging as I edit the last few chapters of Poets Cottage. I shall still be around to visit my blog friends, never fear. And saluting the ever-fab Johnny Depp as we float into another weekend.
Thanks for dropping in. Hope the next couple of weeks are peachy, whimsical and romantically over-the-top for you wherever you are in this amazing universe. xx

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chit-chat Wednesday and almost The End

I'm nearing the end of what has been a major work for me. In the next few weeks I should have a complete draft of my 1930s/current time mystery novel, Poets Cottage, ready for my agent. That's why my posts have been a bit spasmodic lately as I've entered into that strange mind zone which a lot of writers would recognise near the end of a novel.
The weather in Sydney has been perfect for writing. Torrents of rain. I've been purring away at home editing. The Scribe is reading Poets Cottage before my agent receives it. Always a nail-biting time for me. If he thinks it's pants - he's not afraid to say it.
So wish me luck as I launch myself into the home straight. Are you working on any lovely creative projects at the moment? Let me know if you are. I also am longing to start baking my own bread after reading the April edition of UK Country living. Any tips from bread makers out there? My sister lives in the country and bakes bread for her children when they return from school. The smell of home baked bread always reminds me of my childhood as we lived near a country bakery.
Enjoy your week. Keep creative. xx

all images from weheartit

Monday, May 24, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Bellucci baby, Jinty and rain

Rain, rain, rain in Sydney for days which I love. Perfect writing weather. Perfect crime reading and apple crumble weather. Here's a list of some of the things making my heart smile and sing this week.
Inspector Wexford (from Ruth Rendell's series of books). I've recently discovered this likeable detective, who enjoys reading and roses.
Vintage wallpaper (in particular with yellow roses)
Old Loony Tunes cartoons - I love watching the familiar characters I've grown up with bash and mutilate each other. I've recently discovered Baby Loony Tunes. Tweety in a nappy is just too cute for words.
Jinty Annuals - love my old Jinty's. They are so superior to the magazines for young girls today with their lack of merchandise advertising. The girls in my old annuals from the fifties and seventies were always plucky and had great adventures. My daughter loves me to read from Jinty. Although I have to admit she also loves the modern day merchandise filled mags.
This lovely print giveaway from the Blog gingerlillytea. I've purchased a couple of prints from this talented photographer. I do covet her new children's series as I love the dandelion clocks. Daisy loves to blow the 'fairy clocks'.
And the hottest couple on the planet (except Johnny and Vanessa) Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel have a new baby daughter, (Leonie) who was born in Rome on May 20th. Leonie is the couple's second child. Deva, their daughter was born in 2004. Monica, who is a modern day Sophia Loren, gives inspiration and hope to all women in their forties trying to conceive. Ahem, no names mentioned.
Hope your week is filled with inspiring, cozy, lovelies which make you feel smiley inside.
Thanks for dropping in. xx.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fabbo Friday and Fab and Lovely New Books

One of the simple joys in my life is new books. And look at my lovely new books which arrived last week!
Perfect English Cottage by Ros Byam Shaw could easily be renamed Perfect Book. I could spend hours gazing in awe and rhapsody at the beautiful homes within it.
I Love Your Style by Amanda Brooks is another fab and lovely book filled with style inspiration. Massive amounts of photographs of stylish and super fab people. The sort of stylish and fab that make your eyes water when you gaze upon their coolness and beauty. And some pretty rare shots of Brigitte Bardot in this lovely book as well as folk like Laura Bailey, Mick Jagger, Jane Birkin and so on. The usual fab and cool crowd.
And Kelly Doust's The Crafty Minx. This pretty book written by the pretty Kelly is sublime crafty loveliness. I think I have to do a separate post on it alone.
I really love finding some time in a busy day of mothering, editing and domestic artistry to sit in my little garden in the autumn sunshine with a cup of tea and flick through these fab books.
And of course read a couple of magazines. Australia's Country Style and the UK's Country Living both vie with each other for the prettiest colours.
And my fab Blog post for the week goes to the Crafty Minx herself, Kelly Doust. Her Blog is so informative and if you subscribe she sends you the prettiest craftiest newsletters.
I hope your weekend is filled with joyful leisurely moments with good books and mags. Take us away, Johnny for another fab weekend.
Thanks for visiting me. xx

Monday, May 10, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Autumn Delights

I wish I could bottle the Autumn sunshine. It's so happy-making and calming. I'd like to splash and blow bubbles in it. Here are some other delights that are making me happy and mellow, yellow in the Sydney Autumn days.
1/ Martha B Rabbit. I am a fan and would love to be Martha B Rabbit, the wise and pretty rabbit created from Shirley Barber. I love her domestic artistry and her cozy little house with its crochet throws, preserves and warming fire. I admire the way Martha prepares for the coming of winter with her jam-making. Sigh. I would really enjoy spending a winter with Martha B Rabbit.
2/ Granny shoes and coloured tights. I love shoes that your witch Grandmother might wear. Here's my shoes I wore this morning.
3/ Helena Bonham Carter because she also loves Granny Witch shoes and because I love Helena no matter what the season. How I wish I had the courage to wear bloomers. And I'd love a baby pig around the house. Queen of fab and cool.
4/Vintage Pink pale lipstick
6/ living a more frugal lifestyle. I finally have a chance to read books never touched. And watch DVDs still in their wrappers from years ago. We all have so much stuff!
7/ the melodic call of the magpies, morning and evening.
8/ The sinister, darkness in fairy-tales. I can feel more fantasy books calling to me. The path is glistening ahead, the wolves are waiting. Winter is coming. and tales need to be told.
Enjoy your week. What is making you happy and uplifted in your life? I always love to hear. xx
helena bonham carter image source:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fabbo Friday and How I would like to hang out the washing

The Magic Hat Bookclub (the fab bookclub I'm in) met this week. The selected book was The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. It's been a long time since a book has uplifted, inspired and moved me as much as this one. I was on the bus reading it last Saturday and had to restrain myself from jumping up and screaming, "Read this book everyone!" It's become one of my all time favourites. I'm sure Markus would be chuffed to know he was up there along with Enid Blyton, Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie. Warning - this is a book you need several boxes of tissues near as you reach the ending. I'm sure my sobs were heard all over Sydney. I cannot stop thinking about the characters. Hats off to Markus Zusak and Liesal, Rudy, Hans, Max, Rosa, Ilsa and Death.
It's Mother's Day in Australia this Sunday. Below is a little piece I wrote for the lovely Kate Lord Brown's writing Blog (which is one of my favourites) called What Kate Did Next. This was a writing exercise about what I saw that morning. There's also a photo of my daughter and myself taken at drop-off time at her school. Excuse our windblown look, and my daughter's hair is filled with olive oil as I had to cut a rather large piece of chewing gum inventively hidden by some crafty child. As you can see from the piece, my daughter loves to tell stories as much as I do. I think it was written just after this photo was taken, one of a collection of photos for the school's Mothers Day Mass celebrations. And so Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers and Grandmothers this weekend.
My daughter beside me skipping to school in the Autumn Sydney sunshine. Long navy legs, blonde ponytail. Grey tunic. A dancing dappled fairy as she recites a story to herself, "Don't listen, Mummy! It's MY story!"
Commuters in suits rushing past us to catch their trains. Planes flying overhead, low on their descent. Trains rushing past and the commuters run faster. My daughter collecting fairy-clocks and bits of rubbish. Garbage lying discarded. An old street man lies amongst his discarded oranges. My daughter glances briefly at him before she springs in the air to continue her story. Nearer the school, Nannies and Mothers rushing with small children. We swoop through the gates together like a steam of tunic wearing fish. Hugging my daughter goodbye - she smells of innocent stories and her dreams of the night before. Racing home, kicking clouds, heart singing with joy at the laptop waiting in my untidy bedroom. Now it's time for MY story.

When it comes to Blog posts I enjoyed this week, I'm still thinking about a post the beautiful Vicki Archer did for French Essence on lingerie shops in Paris. Sigh. Exactly what every Mother needs. The post is called Thinking of Paris. Lingerie and Lace. I hate to ruin any illusions but that is not me hanging out washing in my Parisian underwear, sadly. That is from the amazing link on Vicki's post to Fifi Chachnil.
And sorry Isabelle, but you're up again for your post on perfumes. I'm addicted to perfumes and so when Suzy's Vintage Attic opened her perfume cupboard, of course I was right there salivating. The post is called The Power of Scent.
And whilst we're salivating over French lingerie and perfumes, then we may as well salute Johnny Depp. Somehow it all seems to go together.
So many fab and lovely things this week!

Enjoy your weekend and thanks for visiting me. xx

Monday, May 3, 2010

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Guest Bloggers Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell

Here is a treat for all at Tale Peddler this week. We have the beautiful and dynamic writing duo of Sydney sisters, Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell doing a guest post for us on their inspirations. Kate has long been an inspiration for me. Her books take up a sizable portion of my bookshelves. She has oodles of knowledge on the business and craft of writing. I've known her for many years and her passion for words and storytelling never fails to move and inspire.And it looks as if blonde Belinda has all the talent and loveliness of Kate as well.Both the sisters have creative talent in their blood. They are descended from Charlotte Barton who wrote the first book for children published in Australia and one of Australia's first female journalists, Louisa Atkinson.
And so gather around closely, feel the warmth of fellow travellers around you. Sip your ale and know magic is in the air. Warm your toes, expect a bird to carry a message, a crone to deliver a prophecy. Allow yourself to believe in the impossible, the fantastical, the power of fire and story-telling. A child with blazing eyes like the sun will bring down a kingdom, a gypsy boy might steal your heart whilst you listen. Be still and let the tale and the magic weave into your bones
I bring you Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell on their inspirations!
My first novel came to me as a dream. I remember it very vividly, even though I was only sixteen when I had the dream and twenty-nine when I began writing it. I saw a small, naked baby lying in a nest of bright golden and orange leaves, cradled by the thick, writhing roots of an immense and ancient tree. It was dawn. I saw a pale moon above a distant, sharp-pointed mountain peak like a bent fang. An old woman came out of a crack in the tree and stood looking down at the baby. She was dressed in a kind of cloak, and had a long plait of silver and black hair. She bent and picked up the baby and took her back inside the tree. I knew, somehow, that she was a wood witch and could speak to animals, and that in the land in which she lived, magic was outlawed and that was why she lived inside a tree.
I wrote a story based on this dream the next day, which may have helped stamp it so deeply into my memory. All I can remember are the lines: ‘the moss was her mattress and the sky was her ceiling.’ When I wanted to write a fantasy story thirteen years later, I remembered this long-ago dream and decided to try and write it again. I began by thinking: Who was the baby? Who left her there in the roots of that old tree? Who was the wood-witch? Why was magic outlawed? By answering those questions, I created the world and the key characters in what became the six-book series, ‘The Witches of Eileanan’.
My dreams are very filmic. They often have a narrative arc, vivid colour and sound, and I remember them when I wake. My journal is full of story sketches that have come from dreams. I try and use my dreams as a way to solve problems in my story, or to dip deeper into my subconscious and see what comes swimming up from the depths. Every night before I go to sleep, I think about my book and my characters, and I think over what I plan to do the next day. Then I do a kind of creative visualisation exercise. It’s different for every book and always works its way into the novel itself. When I was writing The Starthorn Tree, I always imagined a boat crossing a midnight lake. The rhythmic stroke of the oars would take me deeper and deeper into sleep, and I would wonder, ‘what’s on the far shore? What waits for them?’ When I was writing the ‘Rhiannon’s Ride’s’ series, I’d imagine walking down a long flight of dark steps and at the end would be a door. I would turn the handle and step through the door into ... what? A garden? A dungeon? A medieval hall? It was always different. This idea of the door leading into the dream-world was one I used in that series for one of my characters, Olwynne, who was a dream-walker.

Sometimes I am ‘stung by the splendour of a sudden thought’, in Robert Browning’s lovely words. These flashes of inspiration can come any place, at any time ... and so I try and make sure I always have pen & paper to hand. I keep all these scribbles – if they are on a paper napkin or a scrap torn from the edge of the newspaper, I paste them into my notebook so I can remember the moment when the idea came to me.
Each book has its own first bright spark of inspiration. ‘The Puzzle Ring’ was born while reading a jewellery catalogue while waiting in a doctor’s surgery. ‘The Gypsy Crown’ was born during a conversation about children’s books and about how they’re all about princesses or ponies or spies, and how I wished to write something different, something that had never been written before. At once I thought, ‘Gypsies!’ because as a child I had longed to be one, wandering the world barefoot and fancyfree, with a monkey on my shoulder and a violin under my arm. At once I saw the whole story unrolling before me like a film and knew exactly what I was going to do.
My latest book, ‘The Wildkin’s Curse’ was born when I was writing my first children’s book, ‘The Starthorn Tree’. It was late at night, and I was weary, having been writing all day and into the midnight hours. My four heroes were at a point in the story just before the major crisis, when they were facing the very real possibility of defeat and even death. One of my characters, a boy who could tell the future, began to speak a prophecy. It just came out of nowhere, and I wrote it down virtually word for word as it appears in the book today. In that prophecy, he says that there will be two more generations of heroes to come before the land can at last be at peace. At once I knew I had to write two sequels to ‘The Starthorn Tree’ – one about the children of my heroes and one about their grandchildren. I saw, as if in a waking dream, a landscape of forests and mountains and seas rushing past me, towards an impossibly tall crystal tower. I knew that a wildkin princess was imprisoned in that tower and that the quest would be to rescue her.
Other ideas are just a gift of the universe. When it finally came time to write ‘The Wildkin’s Curse’, I could not think how to solve the problem of rescuing Princess Rozalina. I thought and thought and thought, but nothing seemed right. I always like to have a deeper thematic structure to my books, so that each obstacle has a symbolic meaning as well as being a step forward in the plot.
I was walking in the dawn one morning, thinking to myself, ‘how can they rescue Rozalina?’ when suddenly a raven burst into flight right in front of me, dropping a single black feather at my feet. I bent and picked up the feather. At once my brain was on fire with ideas. A feather ... a cloak of feathers ... a broken cloak of feathers that is missing seven feathers, each one from a different bird ... a raven is a symbol of death and wisdom so perhaps that feather could be found at the end of a tragic battle scene ... a feather from an eagle ... perhaps they would have to climb up to its eyrie high in the clouds ... a feather from an owl, a scene in a forest at night, the gaining of some kind of knowledge or insight ... a nightingale, bird of love, perhaps a first kiss? I walked faster and faster and faster, my mind leaping from one idea to another, and by the time I got home I had my entire novel fully plotted out. It was one of those amazing serendipitous moments that make writing a novel such a joy. Kate Forsyth
Magic gems, childhood games, family stories, my travels, adventures, my sister, my children, books I’ve loved….there are so many sources of inspiration in my life. So let’s pick two. The first is my children. I have loved writing since I could almost hold a pen, and I have earned a living as a writer of one kind or another since I left university. In the back of my mind I always had the dream of writing books, definitely kept alive as I saw my sister Kate grow from strength to strength as an author. Yet I was always so busy – working, paying mortgages, travelling, having babies. It wasn’t until I had my own children and read so many books with them, that I rediscovered my love of children’s literature, and dreamed of writing books for them.
I am blessed because all three of my children are fantastic readers. They read books the way I did as a child – avidly, voraciously and illicitly – under the bed covers when they should be asleep! My first books, the Sun Sword Trilogy were written for all three of my children –two boys and a girl. My children loved exciting adventure stories and fantastic quests where the children were brave and strong and clever. Books where children were empowered and able to take on the adult world and win!
But my most recent two books The Locket of Dreams and The Ruby Talisman were very definitely written for my daughter Emily, who is 12 and always, always has her head stuck firmly in a book!
Both these books are time slip adventures, about modern day girls who magically travel back in time. The Locket of Dreams was set in 1850s Scotland, while my new book, The Ruby Talisman Is set during the French Revolution. Tilly and Amelie are two girls, born more than 200 years and a whole world apart, yet magically linked by the Ruby Talisman which brings them together to fight side by side, to escape the horrors of the revolution.
I was inspired to write The Ruby Talisman because my family and I were lucky enough to have two years travelling and having adventures together. During this time we lived in Europe for five months, particularly France. I love France – the landscape, the food, the history, the culture and the language, so was very keen to set a book there and the French Revolution seemed an ideal period in history for a book of deadly danger and exhilarating adventures.
To research the book we wandered the opulent salons of Versailles, and walked in the footsteps of Queen Marie-Antoinette. We explored the gorgeous French countryside on horseback, by foot and on board an old fishing boat. We even crawled down into the dank, dark tunnels under the streets of Paris where the aristocratic bones were tossed of many of those murdered during the revolution. How could you not be inspired in a setting like this? Fantastique!!
Thanks Kate and Belinda for taking the time on a busy promotional tour to drop into Tale Peddler. If you would like to read more about them and their work, their websites are and
Enjoy your week and Believe! xx
all photos courtesy of Kate Forsyth