Saturday, March 31, 2012

1980s Video: The Pleasure Principle

Happy Saturday! I decided to go with a classic Janet Jackson vid.....The Pleasure Principle from 1986. I love this song, and I love this video. Janet is adorable. She is curvy, athletic, sexy and fierce. Rock on, Janet!

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for The Martini Club. I am posting some cocktail recipes from Round Pond Estate, including a Blood Orange Manhattan and Meyer Lemon Sidecar. Shake, shake, shake!

Happy Day,

Friday, March 30, 2012

Anthony Of The Day

I know. Normally I post Beard of the Day on Fridays. But to be honest, I'm not finding a lot of great beardy shots with Anthony. (That's Anthony LaPaglia for anyone not recognizing this super hottie Aussie actor-without-a-beard-but-still-looking-fine-anyway.)

Let's face some facts here. Anthony doesn't need no stinkin' beard. This guy has got it going on, even with a clean-shaven face. Some cool tidbits about Anthony....

1. He was born in Australia in 1959.
2. He was a goalkeeper in the Australian National Soccer League.
3. He did the voice for Boss Skua in Happy Feet.

Anthony looks good bald.

Anthony looks good playing soccer.

Anthony looks good with scruff and glasses.

Anthony looks good in his younger days with fingerless gloves.

Anthony looks good with his FBI vest (in the TV show Without A Trace).

Anthony looks good with a tie.

Anthony always looks good! Hope everyone has a great weekend. On Sunday I will be posting some tasty cocktail recipes from Round Pond Estates for The Martini Club.

Happy Friday (pretend Anthony is saying that with an Australian accent....there you go!),

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gnome Alone: In Search Of Nectar By Kirkus MacGowan

Another quirky and unexpected discovery: Kirkus MacGowan. Tom Stronach mentioned him on his blog, and so I decided to check out one of his stories. In Search of Nectar is very short, very strange, and very free right now on Kindle. (In other words, right on the Penelope Chuckwagon--thanks to Tom for revising the "bandwagon" to the "chuckwagon"). 

All I will say about this wacky little ditty is that it describes a ridiculous quest by an easily manipulated bachelor, who is convinced by a violence-prone talking garden gnome to find a life-saving elixir. It is also well-written, clever and hilarious. And I freakin' loved it. And I'm going to read his other books.

Grade: A

(It's so short it's not even an amuse bouche. It's more like a couple of crumbs from a Primanti Brothers sandwich. Which is a famous sammie in Pittsburgh where they stuff everything on the bread....the fries, the coleslaw, everything. It's fabulous!....see below.....)

And here is the ridiculous cover for the book.....haaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another startling discovery by Penelope.

Happy Thursday!
Penny Who Now Has A Hankerin' For A Primanti Bros Sammie

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Books Are A Uniquely Portable Magic"

Who said this quote? Was it...

A) J K Rowling
B) Ernest Hemingway
C) Charlotte Bronte
D) Stephen King

Guesses? Well, if you answered "D" you are correct!

What's so cool about this quote, beside the fact that is an amazing way to look at books?

Well, it's the theme for the 2012 NECRWA Spring Conference this year. And I want to talk about conference a little bit today. I did a guest post for Romance Novel News this week...Penelope's Top 7 Reasons Not To Miss The 2012 NECRWA Spring Conference. I discuss the inspiring speakers, helpful workshops, charming locale, excellent pitch opportunities (you get to submit 10 pages of your WIP for a critique, not just an oral pitch like most conferences), the cocktail party, the ghost hunt, the book fair, and of course the most important part of all...the schmoozing.

I love this quote by Stephen King. Because it's true. Books are magic. They transport us to a different time and place. They provide us with comfort, excitement and adventure. And if we're lucky enough to be romance lovers, they inspire true romance and love.

I believe that every author is a magic-maker. That's what we do. We offer this gift to our readers. But the journey for us is much more complicated and difficult. We have to worry about rejection and mastering our craft, how to keep up with new trends in the publishing industry, and who to trust to watch our backs. And that's what I find the most magical about this conference.

When all is said and done, this writing journey, for me, is about people.

People we've known since the beginning who support us. Strangers we meet after a few (okay, maybe 11) cocktails. Folks who write everything from multi-orgy erotica to sweet, rated G Amish books. But what binds us all together is a dream. To write. To make magic. And hopefully this journey will be magic for us, too.

All of the Quirky Ladies are involved with conference this year. And it's hard. We have supported each other through all sorts of difficulties, in both our professional and personal lives. The best part of my critique group, and all of my friends and colleagues at NEC, is that we will not let each other fail. Even when we feel like we are not reaching our goals or self-imposed expectations, even when we feel like life is overwhelming, we are there for each other.

This is extremely humbling to me. This is why I'm on this journey. It's not really about the hunky Klaus Brothers (although they are adorable and fun, of course). This is about finding other kindred spirits on this path that is at times isolating, painful and ego-crushing. People who bolster each other and fan the flames of our magic.

This conference is a coming together of family. Young and old, experienced and newbs, cynical and bright-eyed. It is magic. Being with so many talented and supportive people. You just can't help but feel inspired about your writing journey.

I hope to see many of you there in April. I'll be the one wearing the tiara at the registration table.

Off to read some more portable magic,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Off The Bandwagon

As soon as I see a million people flock to something, I run the other direction.

Not sure why, I just tend to lose interest.

I'm always looking for something a little different, a little bit quirky, something off the beaten path.

Sometimes I join in the fracas (The Walking Dead, for example). But most of the time I run far, far away.

At the moment, I couldn't care less about that Grey book, the Hunger Games movie, JR Ward's latest book, basketball March Madness, the romance novel brackets, and Linsanity (much to my hubby's chagrin).

For some of them, I fell off the bandwagon. For some of them, I was never on the bandwagon. I just don't care.

Right now I'm into Dalian, China, the Iditarod, winter-hardy Mediterranean plants, tiaras, flash fiction, quirky indie books, and Anthony LaPaglia.

Coming up on the reading horizon: One Tasty Night by Amber Skyze, Actions Speak Louder by Rosemarie Naramore, Doughnuts for Amy by John Malik, In Search of Nectar by Kirkus MacGowan, and Prince Charming, Inc by Jamie Brazil. I already started Prince Charming, Inc, and I love the bit about renovating the San Francisco Victorian mansion. Great stuff!

For those on the bandwagon, and for those who have fallen off------
Have a great reading day!

p.s. My To-Do List in now in double digits. I am cranking, baby!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Excuse Me While I Smoke This #2 Pencil.....

I have pencils on the brain for two reasons.

#1) My son has his MCAS test this week, so we loaded him up with #2 nicely sharpened pencils.

#2) I have a to-do list with 103 items on it. Yes, you read that correctly. One hundred. And three. Items. Now, to be fair, some are high-priority (take Lucy for rabies shot...TODAY!) and some are low-priority (take down the backyard fence that has been disintegrating for the last 5 years). Other items on this list include purchasing a tiara for NEC Conference, entertaining Julia Barrett when she visits Boston in April, and prepare promo workshop titled "Penelope Channels Miss Manners: How To Promote Yourself Without Peeving Everyone Off." Stuff like that.

I have the to-do list sub-divided into WORK, HOUSE, KIDS, FINANCES, HEALTH, VACATIONS/CAMP, etc. Also, color-coded.

What does this have to do with pencils? Well, I'm slightly stressed out about the fact that I have over one hundred items to get done in the next month. When I'm stressed, I miss smoking. When I miss smoking, I "smoke" a #2 pencil to take the edge off. Does it work? Hell no, it doesn't freakin' work! (Other things I do to alleviate stress include snuggling with the weenie dog, guzzling red wine and walking around the neighborhood like a maniac).

Here's a pic of what I look like at the moment. (Note: "Crazy Eyes," Ariel tiara, and totally unsympathetic weenie dog licking my face).

Lucy is unimpressed with my To-Do List. In her humble opinion, the list should include only three things....

1. Feed weenie dog.
2. Snuggle with weenie dog.
3. Allow weenie dog to lick me for 17 straight hours until my skin falls off.

Hopefully, I will be able to cross off at least a couple of things from this list today. Maybe I'll get the list into double-digit territory! I CAN DO IT!

Oh My God It's Monday Already Somebody Help Me,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Martini Club: Julia Rachel Barrett's Lemon Drop

I'm obsessed with lemon. I love lemon desserts. Lemon-scented soaps. The color yellow. I grow lemon basil, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon mint, lemon scented geranium, and any other type of lemony herb I can get my hands on. Lemon is fresh. It's light. It's the perfect flavor, in my totally-lacking-humility opinion. 

I am pleased as a peacock to welcome Julia Rachel Barrett to The Martini Club. Julia and I enjoyed a wide array of tasty beverages when I visited her in Napa...including incredible wine and delicious cocktails. She is sharing her favorite cocktail recipe with us today--The Lemon Drop. This one is right up my lemony alley!

While sipping your tart treat, you might want some excellent reading material. May I recommend for your reading pleasure....

Captured -- a fabulous sci fi erotica

My Everything -- a super intense romantic suspense

Incorporeal and In the Flesh -- 2 related ghostly love tales

Pushing Her Boundaries -- a great contemporary based on Julia's harrowing real-life canoe trip

(I also loved Beauty and the Feast, which will be available in May.)

So, let's get to it! Cocktail time......Here's Julia!


I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, but when I’m celebrating something special, my go-to drink is either a Trifecta Lemon Drop from Cole’s Chop House here in Napa, or a down and dirty gin martini with five – count ‘em – five olives.
The Trifecta Lemon Drop -- Ketel One Citroen, Lemoncello, Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice, Sugared Rim
Since the above recipe is a guarded secret, here’s one for the usual, and excellent, Lemon Drop:
1 ½ ounces vodka
½ ounce triple sec
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
4 -5 ice cubes
superfine sugar, for the martini glass rim
lemon twist
Chill martini glasses in freezer for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.
Place Vodka, Triple Sec, lemon juice and sugar into a cocktail shaker with 4-5 ice cubes and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Run the lemon twist around the edge of the chilled martini glass and dunk in a small amount of sugar for a coated rim.
Pour the strained martini into the chilled glasses and serve.



Thanks so much, Julia! That cocktail looks fab. (Also, I totally support the 5-olive minimum). I was so inspired by this recipe that I put together an Etsy collection called I'm So TartI even found an adorable lemon drop pendant made by JeanMarie Talvo Jewelry Design. Love it!

Huge thanks to Julia for visiting today.

Happy Sloshy Sunday!

ETA: For Casey.....a lemony wedding cake! Look at that bride, c. 1990!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Smooth Saturday

I guess I'm feeling smooth this morning. (Well, at least not like flinging my body off a bridge any more. Evidently, it was a 24-hr bug, thank the good Lord!)

This is my favorite MJ song. I love the old-timey glamour of this vid. I love the choreography. And I love the song. Even if the lyrics are silly. It's got great energy!

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for The Martini Club. Julia Rachel Barrett is sharing her Lemon Drop recipe. I love lemon!

Happy Smooth Saturday,

Friday, March 23, 2012


I lost 24 hours. It was Penelope Vs. A Mega-Bug, and Penelope lost. Let's just say that by the end of the day, my tiara was slightly skewed on top of my head. Still there, but hanging on by a thread.

On the bright side, I think I lost about 5 pounds in a day. Woo hoo!

Onto more important news items....

1. I have now developed a crush on Anthony LaPaglia in the television show Without A Trace. I watched a lot of TV yesterday, and there must have been a WAT marathon. For some strange and unknown reason, I am now totally hot for this dude. And he doesn't even have a beard!

2. For the last year, I have been sending smart-ass tweets to Craig Engler, a senior executive at Syfy who has a twitter account. He has 117,895 followers and has totally ignored me. Until yesterday. He posted a tweet saying that he was "kicking around ideas for Syfy pinboards...any suggestions?" I answered, "Decapitated heads?" And he responded, "Probably not." Did you hear that? He responded! And here's proof.....

I think the decapitated head Pinboard is spot-on. But, whatever. Last year he asked for a tagline for the Syfy movie Rage of the Yeti, and I responded "Yeti Will Make You Dead-y" which I personally think should have won the contest. Yeti will make you deady! Come on! But noooooo.....he totally ignored me.

3. I have downloaded a ton of books this week. One is a romance with a weenie dog in it. One is about an older couple (love those). Some are funky, quirky shorties. I'll keep you posted.

4. Yesterday morning, I was too sick to get the kids off to school. They were on their own. So, my husband woke my son and daughter before he left for work. I dragged myself out of bed to peek at them and make sure they were doing okay, and I saw a plate with a muffin cut up into quarters and a glass of milk sitting on the kitchen counter. This is how I "prepare" Cristian's breakfast in the morning. I laughed and said "Who did this?" And Natty, my 9 year old, said, "I did it. I made Cristian his breakfast." How cute is that? She's my munchkin.

5. I was tagged by Casey Wyatt in a Facebook post. I'm supposed to go to page 77 in my WIP, go to line 7, and copy the next 7 sentences. So, from pg. 77 of Lumberjack in Love....

     "How do you do this?" Ami walked over to one of the ladders and ran her fingers over the silky smooth wood. "Is this all done by hand?"

     Marcus chuckled. "Some of it I do by hand, especially notching and hewing the rough-cut timber. But I also have a wood-working studio next to the cabin. It's fully outfitted with powers tools. Depends on the project."

(Can you tell this is a book about a lumberjack? hee hee)

All right, my little chickadees. Stay safe out there!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Finally! I Get To Wear My Tiara!

I have been waiting a very long time for an appropriate occasion to whip out my gorgeous tiara. This one I borrowed from Queen's a 19th century piece, created in the Gothic revival style, with diamonds and emeralds. It's from my "casual tiara" collection.

Anyhoo, thanks to Tom Stronach, who awarded me the Liebster Award, I finally get the chance to wear it. (I'm also waving to my fans and riding around in a convertible with the top down).

In the true spirit of this award, I would like to give a shout-out to a variety of excellent blogs I have been frequenting of late. Here we go!

This hilarious blog is a mixture of political commentary, delicious home-cooked recipes, book reviews, and naughty jokes and cartoons. In other words, it's the perfect blog for Penelope!

If you are looking for tasty gourmet recipes, something fun to cook with the kidlets, or just want to ohh and ahh over the beautiful foodie photographs, this blog's for you.

A Martini and a Pen
Is your day getting dull and boring? Well, why not ramp it up with some deranged flash fiction? (Warning: Don't read if you have a weak stomach). Totally entertaining and wack.

A long-lost chum from high school has this incredible blog filled with nature photographs. They are stunning and inspiring. And make me cry and want to move back to Vermont. Boo hoo hoo!

Lumberjack Erotica
This fabulous tumblr site has a completely bizarre mix of high-brow home decorating pics, guys with huge beards and plaid shirts, and guys You never know what you're going to's fun!

Ayyyy! Gently Making Fun of the Famous
I love celebrity websites. This one is awesome. It has super embarrassing photos of your favorite celebs. Hee heeeeee!

J W Manus
For writers everywhere....this site will kick your dangling-participial ass. It has tips on how to edit, format stuff for Kindle, and handle the complicated world of self-pubbing.

the lost beat
Put on your all-black outfit, find your beret, grab a pack of Marlboro lights, and sit back and enjoy some poetry. Natasha Gdansk and Tom Andrews get their poetic groove on.

Erotic Romance
I check this site every day. Emily Veinglory is on the cutting edge of the great big world of romance and erotica publishing. And she loves to dish it out when the news is asinine. (Which it is, most of the time).

Curves Are Fabulous
Are you a curvy girl, and proud of it? This blog covers fashion, exercise and health, and positive body-image stuff for girls who aren't a size zero. Yay!

I Am Mini Van
This is my cousin's blog. She is a ridiculously talented writer, and has lots of great posts about friends, family and life. My favorite post is this one about her interview with Bill Murray. Check it out!

Julia Barrett's World
And last but not least, the spot where you can find posts about zombies, basketball, history, fiction, writing, medical articles, and excellent stories about saving baby herons. (That one was my personal favorite in the last couple of weeks).

So, once again, big thanks to Tom for the shout-out. Please enjoy the blog recommendations. I'll just be off to the grocery store with my tiara.