Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Isabelle stepped aside when she heard horses coming up behind her. Two beautiful young women elegantly turned out in green velvet riding habits, rode towards her.
“C’est linfirmiere du Spa. Imaginez! Elle se promene toute seule sans chapeau. Elle est affreuse avec cette coiffure.”
Her companion nodded. “Et lavez-vous entendu parler? C’et accent Gallois terrible!”
Isabelle understood every insulting word and threw her stick at one of the horses, whacking it firmly on the rump. The startled animal reared and took off in a tearing gallop with the girl clinging to the reins. Isabelle burst out laughing.
“You should not have done that.” A man’s voice startled her. She spun around to confront him, lost her footing on the muddy path and tumbled down the hill, skidding to an awkward stop when her skirt caught in a patch of thorny blackberry bushes. He vaulted from his horse and slid down the grassy slope after her.
“Are you all right? I am sorry. I did not mean to frighten you.”
Isabelle scrambled to her feet. Embarrassed and well aware of her muddy, disheveled appearance, she straightened her skirt. “I am quite all right, please join your friends.”
She kept her gaze firmly fixed on the ground and waited for him to leave before climbing up to the path. Throwing the stick at the horse had been childish. What if the girl had fallen? Isabelle forced herself to look at him.
He smiled, very likely enjoying her predicament. His riding jacket stretched taut over his broad shoulders. Momentarily at a loss for words, Isabelle blinked and stopped staring at him. A lock of auburn hair had fallen across his forehead and laughter lurked in his eyes. Was he laughing at her?
“I said, you may go and join your friends, I do not require your assistance.” There. She would not apologize for throwing that stick, let him think what he liked.
“But I must know your name. It is not every day I frighten young ladies into falling down hills.”
“I am not the least bit frightened and see no reason for you to know my name.” With a haughty toss of her head, she started up the slope only to slide back and flounder awkwardly on her knees.
He gripped her arm. “You must allow me.”
Isabelle bit her lip, furious at herself for slipping on the wet grass. The steely strength of his arm pressed against her side unnerved her. Feeling light-headed, she accepted his help to the top.
“Thank you.” She tugged her arm away and started down the path, desperately trying to hold back tears.
“Wait!” He caught her hand. “You still have not told me your name.”
He towered over her and for seconds she gazed helplessly into the depths of his dark blue eyes. Her knees trembled.
“I am Harry Manderlin.”
Isabelle died inside. His mother was her patient at the spa! Why did he wish to know her name? Fearful of some punishment for throwing the stick, she refused to answer. Her behavior might reflect badly on the clinic.
“Surely, my name is not important, neither to you nor your friends.” In a rush of anger, she snatched her hand from his and glared defiantly at him. “Please tell them this. Although they find my Welsh accent deplorable, their French accent leaves much to be desired.”
She raised her chin. “Vos amies parlent Francais comme des vaches espagnoles. What is more, they have the manners of the gutter!”
Blinded by angry tears, she fled down the path. To be seen by such people, looking like a muddy gypsy girl was mortifying. Then to be insulted! She was glad she’d thrown the stick. Glad. As for him, he probably thought helping her up the hill was a great joke, a wonderful story to tell his companions.
Harry watched her until she disappeared around a bend in the path and into the shelter of some trees. A rueful smile tipped his lips. She wanted nothing to do with him. He swung into the saddle and cantered up the path. When he caught up with his friends, Sylvia fumed at him.
“That girl! That bedraggled, half-witted gypsy hurled a stick at my horse and it very nearly threw me. I hope you spoke sharply to her and gave her a piece of your mind.”
“We recognized her.” Mary Anne declared. “She gives treatments at the spa. You must have her dismissed.”
“Dismissed, because she was so offended by your rude remarks, she threw a stick at you?”
They gaped at him. “She speaks excellent French and suggests you both mind your manners and take lessons to improve your accent.”
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
And here is my second book with Cerridwen Press, Isabelle's Diary. A contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. Can ghosts appear in broad daylight?Practical minded Sally Carter didn't think so. Ghosts belong in eerie castles preferably on mountain tops where they shriek and moan and generally make the neighbours in the valleys below unhappy. But who was the girl dressed in sombre Victorian black who wept over a diary? Solving the puzzle changed Sally's life. Buy my book. Find a hero to sigh over and a love story to cherish.
Make me happy. Leave a comment. Visit my web site.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Before long the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and the coal merchant were demanding payments of overdue accounts. Desperate for funds Catherine answered an advertisement in The Times seeking a companion for a young person injured in a riding accident. (I'll post the advertisement on my next blog) Catherine was over the moon when a soliciter Mr. Knightley contacted her with an offer. Three months wages in advance! Catherine agreed with the terms; moving to Abbeyleigh, a two hour train journey south of London.
Lady Jane was horrified. No young lady of quality ever sought employment. Catherine would be ruined forever. There'd be no offers of marriage. There'd be no parties in the countryside with opportunites to meet eligible young men. But Catherine insisted on accepting employment. She used most of the advanced wages to pay the overdue accounts and left money for her mother to cover her daily expenses.
Three months in the country. Springtime. Away from smokey London. Away from cholera plaguing parts of the city. What could be better? What could be worse? Catherine found out soon enough. Have I whetted your appetite? Check my web site for an excerpt. My books are available from Cerridwen Press.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Q.Tell me about yourself, i.e. When did you discover you had an artistic talent? As a child or were you older? Art education? Where?
A. I've been drawing my entire life. My Dad worked as'Mr. Mom' - a stay at home Dad for some years. He worked as an artist and I lived in his studio. I loved drawing with my dad. Though I completed 6 yrs.of university and worked with many talented people in the animation and advertising industries, I still consider my dad to be my mentor. As for university, I studied fine arts at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Cornish Collage of the Art's in Seattle and character animation at Cal Arts in Valencia Ca.
Q. What made you concentrate on children's books? How many children's books have you had published?
A. I decided to focus on Children's books primarilybecause, aside from loving the medium, I really like working on my own. As a content provider for television animation, advertising and the gaming industry, I like the fact that my ideas aren't so easily culled in the kids book world. Publishers don't seem to have the inflated ego's some of the executives in the entertainment world have.It's not that I don't think people sitting on the other side of the desk don't ever have anything positive to add, it's just that I'm not interested in being dictated to by someone who simply doesn't get it. Some of them don't! There are lots of those people out there. Children's books, while compromises still plays a roll, is much more pure and much less political than the entertainment business. Orca, (Chris's publisher) for example, allowed me to voice my opinions and worked to meet me half way on aspects of the book that we did not see eye to eye on.
Q. Your drawings for MECHANIMALS are brilliant. Where did that concept come from?
A. I really have no idea exactly when the idea came to me. I was working on a robot book when I started drawing mechanicalanimals. The idea took form from there. I had been picking away at the idea for 6 years prior to bringing it to a publisher.
Q. The story line for MECHANIMALS is clever. Did that come to you before or after the cover concept popped into your head?
A. The story has always comes to me first. I find that the eureka moment when an idea pops into my head from the ether to be the best, most exciting and fulfilling part of my process. And the easiest. It's not that I wouldn't like to be more organic with my process, moving back and forth from writing to drawing. It's just that when I get the idea, I have to write the entire thing while it's still hot on my mind. Mechanimals was a much longer story, and written in verse. The editor wanted to keep it simple so I compromised.
Q. Tell me about your latest book.
A. My new book is still top secret. It comes out in the spring. It deals with a child artist.
Thanks for doing this, Chris. I know how busy you are with your new top secret project.
Here's the cover of your book. It's suitable for ages 3 - 6. I loved it and so did Alana, my daughter-in-law, a kindergarten teacher, and Taylor, my granddaughter. Just one look at that smiling pig and I smile.
http://www.anitabirt.com/ and http://anitabirtstoryteller.blogspot.com/ A Very Difficult Man, Cerridwen Press, available now. Isabelle's Diary, Cerridwen Press, available September 6, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I live close to downtown and our garden is safe from marauding deer that lay waste to gardens a mere three or four kilometres away. A couple of years ago I was out on my morning walk and met two deer quietly munching on shrubs. This is right in the city! I asked them what they were doing in town but they gave be a "look" and continued eating. In 1992 a cougar wandered right into the downtown area, was spooked by something and crashed through the window of a street level apartment. It scared the girl getting dressed for work. She screamed and the cougar retreated through the window and ended up in the parking garage of The Fairmont Empress Hotel. Not to worry. The animal was tranquilized and removed to a safe area outside the city.
Bears meander into the outlying areas especially this year when the berry crop hasn't been bountiful. They go after apples and other fruit lying around.
Why am I telling you all this? I think it's great to live in a country where wild animals live on our doorsteps so to speak. I don't want to meet a cougar on my morning walk. Having been attacked and bitten by a Great Pyranees I'd not look kindly on a wily cougar or a hungry bear. I carry illegal pepper spray and my cell phone just in case.
Drop by and say hello.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
For instance. Several years ago my husband and I were visiting Cornwall and stayed in the old smuggling town, Polperro. Rife with smuggling history, the town is carefully preserved and very pretty. White washed small houses on narrow winding streets. Pots of colourful flowers on steps and balconies. We strolled away from town up a long hill and came to a wrought iron gate with the name, Tycara, scrolled on a brass plate. Beyond the gate was a beautiful garden with flagstone steps gracing the far wall.
The garden seemed out of place on the rugged Cornwall coast. I rested my elbows on the gate and gazed at the array of shrubs and flowers. And then ... I imagined a lady in a long white dress coming down the steps. In my dreamy thoughts, I am alone at the Tycara gate and the lady approaches me. "Do come and take tea with me," she says.
And that's how I began writing the story of the Tycara gate. I haven't finished it. So many twists and turns have developed in the plot I'm taking a time out to let the story simmer inside my head. Characters in stories have a way of going their own way while I, the author, try to keep them under control or go where they want to go.
I'd like to know how you, reader of my blog, might use that imaginary beginning and write an opening paragraph. Send it to me at email@example.com I'll publish it on my blog.
One of my friends, an excellent writer, came up with the idea of interviewing the main characters in her latest book on her blog. I'm not averse to stealing her idea and my next blog will be an interview with Catherine Thurston, my heroine, in A Very Difficult Man. And there's the cover.
The crystal ball belongs to a beautiful gypsy fortune teller, a friend of Catherine's.
Come by and visit.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Can a ghost appear in broad daylight? Can she sit in a café weeping over the pages of a diary? Who is the beautiful young woman dressed in somber Victorian black whose tearful presence disrupts Sally Carter's orderly life?
Puzzled over the mysterious disappearance of the stranger Sally is compelled to discover her identity. She visits the town museum where a photograph of nineteen year old Isabelle Linden dating back one hundred years adds to the mystery. Isabelle is the image of the girl weeping in the café.
In her search to identify the stranger Sally is assisted by handsome Welsh historian, Dan Conway. During their search of parish records Sally is shocked to come across long buried family secrets.
But questions remain unanswered. Who was the girl in the café? And why was Sally the only person to see her?
That's the story question. I'll post an excerpt. Don't go away yet. I shall return.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Okay, I'm promoting one of my books on this blog hoping to encourage you to rush out and buy. Well, not exactly rush. You have to order my books from Cerridwen Press and download them to your computer or your e-reader. I have an e-Bookwise reader and it's a pleasure to use.
Back to A Very Difficult Man. The scene is set in the English countryside and the story opens on March 1st, 1854. Raise the curtain. Let the play begin.
Catherine arrives at Glenmore Manor in a raging wind and rain storm. No one met her at Abbeyleigh Station, the manor gates arelocked and she has to climb a wall to get into the grounds. Worse is yet to come. She catches a chill and when she recovers she learns that the "young Person" to whom she is supposed to read and act as a companion is not a young lady like herself but, Richard, Lord Glenmore!
Badly wounded in the Crimean War, Richard returns to England a bitter man. He does not want a companion and vows to get rid of Catherine by fair means or foul.
Why is Catherine in the play? Who'd want to take on the bad tempered Lord Glenmore?
Catherine responded to an advertisement in The Times and has accepted a position as a companion to a young person injured in a riding accident. Her mother, Lady Thurston, begged her not to accept paid employment. It was not done in London society. But the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and the coal merchant are demanding payment of outstanding accounts. Catherine's father had died a year ago leaving Catherine and her mother without sufficient funds to live comfortably and take part in society.
How can she endure Richard's ill humour? She needs the money!
Want to know how the story develops? Purchase my book. I know you will enjoy it. Many readers already have. Thanks for dropping by. Next blog I'll write about Isabelle's Diary.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Those little creatures staring at the fire are ducks herded to safety by the local fire department. The barn was destroyed. All but ten of the ducks were saved.
Mike's picture has a surreal quality, with the light playing on the trees, the flames in the background and the little creatures huddled together. It looks like an illustration for a fairytale. I loved the photo so much, I have kept the clipping from the newspaper and wanted to share it. Let me know if the picture speaks to you. It could be a group of sinners gazing into hell, not a pleasant prospect. Or it could be a little group of ducks waiting for the wizard to appear from the flames to change them back into human form.
Before the week is out I'll post an interview with Chris Tougas, the author and illustrator of the children's book, Mechanimals. I posted the cover a couple of days ago.
And a reminder from me, the author of A Very Difficult Man and Isabelle's Diary, published by and available from Cerridwen Press. You can download my e-books on to your computer or laptop or on to your e-reader. I have an eBookwise reader and it's easy to read e-books on it. I love it. I can load it with books and take it with me on holidays. A neat way to carry your reading while away from home.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Next sign of autumn. I planted winter pansies in the big pot on our front porch. On southern Vancouver Island winters are fairly mild and winter pansies bloom beautifully. All the summer flowers in our garden have to come out soon. They are losing their looks and some are drooping. Something like me on bad hair days or too much to do days when I tend to wilt.
Susan Lyons, multi-published writer, member of our Vancouver Island Chapter, RWA, presented a workshop last Saturday on verb tenses and point of view. She called it, LOOK WHO'S TALKING. This is a Rule of Thumb. "Choose the simplest, clearest, least noticeable technique that will still accomplish what the story requires." (Orson Scott Card, Characters and Viewpoint)
Tense refers to the time of action the verb expresses. You'll use either present, past or a combination.
Point Of View - Whose head is the reader in? Through which character's eyes and brain does the reader experience the story?
Sue is presenting Look Who's Talking at the Emerald City Conference.
I hope all you who read my Blog will purchase one or both of my books. A Very Difficult Man, a historical romance and Isabelle's Diary, a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. And watch for Isabelle's Story to be released on December 27th. It's the story of Isabelle Linden who penned the diary. A wonderful love story that almost ended in tragedy.
Tomorrow I hope to post an amazing picture that appeared in our local newspaper last week. It has a fairytale quality to it. And I leave you with this question. Dandelions are asexual, so why do they have flowers?" Puzzle over that for a few hours and I'll tell you where to find the answer tomorrow. Hmm. If I rememer.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I've had a review for my book from Night Owl Romance, 3 out of 5 which means "A good read." That pleases me. But, and there is a but. The reviewer told the whole story from start to finish and gave away the ending. Sigh. Don't go and read the review. I really want you to buy my book!
I blogged a day or so ago about my passion (not quite the right word) for newspapers. I come across so many interesting stories as I turn the pages. For instance, how could I resist reading the article headed. "Bar is raised for snorting fish out your nose." What followed in The Times Colonist was about the latest Guiness Book of Records and who had made it in.
This is my favourite. Indian yoga instrutor, G.P. Vijayakumar, snorted eight fish up through his mouth and out of his nostrils in a minute! Wouldn't you love to see that? Here's another extraodrindary feat. Frenchman Michel Lotito claimed the wierdest diet - over the years had consumed 128 bicykcles and 15 supermarket trolleys which he washed down with six chandeliers, two beds and a pair of skis. How does one eat one bicycle or a bed or a chandelier? A mind boggling feat that ties me to think on it.
And now for something completely different. From The Globe and Mail an article about Kissing. We romance authors are always eager to learn more about kissing. How do you like your kisses, wet or dry? According to the article written by Rebecca Dube, Women kiss to assess the commitment of a mate - is he really into me? While men kiss as a means to an end - let's get it on. Ms Dube is quoting from an issue of Evolutionary Psychology so if you are really, really interested in learning more about kissing, try Googling for it. But I'll mention one last thing. Men like their kisses wetter with more tongue. "To be precise, 33 percent wetter and with 11 percent more tongue, on average, than women do."
Lo these many years ago when I was about 12 or 13 and lived in a small country town (unsophisticated you understand) I was at a birthday party where we played Spin The Bottle. One of the boys spun the bottle and it pointed at me! He kissed me and it was so wet and sloppy it put me off wet kisses until - well for a long time.
Goodness knows what impels researches to spend time finding out that, "Deep-voiced men have more kids." I quote from David Feinberg, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. "We think it's sort of like a peacock's tail...A peacock's tail doesn''t help a peacock suirvve in the world at all ... It's there to attrack females. So in this case, it's testosterone which masculinizes the voice at purberty..." The researchers visited the Hadza tribe in Tanzania and spoke to the tribesmen and women in Swahili. The whole study is published in the journal, Biology Letters should you wish to know more.
You know what, the men with the deepest voices in the tribe had more children than men with lighter voices. Sigh. I wonder how the women felt about being pregnant year after year with those swaggering guys forever showing off their deep voices by whispering sweet nothings in their wife's ears. "Let's get it on, baby."
Those are my newspaper musing for to-day. It's time for a cup of tea so I can settle down with The National Post and read what Samuel Pepys blogs in his daily diary.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
One of the men harpooned the whale. Attached to the harpoon were five round buoys. The whale tried desperately to escape but could not dive with the buoys dragging it up and down as it fought for its life.
The men picked up their high powered guns and began shooting. One observer counted 21 shots and called the Coast Guard. The whale struggled for hours to survive. The Coast Guard cut the whale loose from the buoys and freed the animal. It sank to the bottom to die ten hours after the first shots were fired.
The tribal elders did not sanction the hunt. The men who commited the crime think of themselves as heroes. What do you think?
I sometimes wonder if we humans deserve to share the planet with other creatures. This is a sad Blog but I thought the whale deserved to have its dying story told. I hope there's a safe haven or heaven for whales. They are amazing creatures and deserve our respect, admiration and protection
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I heard a funny one on Corner Gas. This delightful sitcom (no laugh track!) set in the mythical town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, where, "There's not a lot going on," is their theme. The other night on a repeat, Oscar said to Hank, "you couldn't win a foot race with a fish." In another episoade, Emma, Oscar's wife, said to him, "A dog wouldn't lick you if you were covered in gravy."
Corner Gas has been picked up by a number of small television stations in the United States. I hope some of you get a chance to see it. It's addictive!
Those aren't exactly colloquialisms but they are colourful and funny. Here's a sample of what I mean by colourful sayings with a wish in them. My mother was Scottish. "Lang may your lum reek." Translation. "Long my your chimney smoke." This harks back to the time when many people were poor and often had no coal for their fires. Smoke coming from a chimney was a good sign. Food could be cooked. Water could be heated. And the family would be warm.
I think this sailing one came from my father who was born and raised in a fishing village in Newfoundland. "Long may your big jib draw."
We had a friend who came from Oklahoma. When he was tired, he'd say, "I feel like I've been rode hard and put up wet."
In my book, Isabelle's Diary, you'll find Welsh expressions and myths about new moons, the colour green and a story about an unidentified skeleton.
I know there are millions of colourful expressions of which I know nothing but would be interested in reading some of them. So readers of my Blog, send me a few of yours. Especially if you live in the southern United States. You are blessed with words that sing. So sing to me.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I don't know about you - I assume there is a "you" out there waiting to read my blogs, but I love myths, legends and superstitions. One, of which I am particularly fond, is about rowan trees. They are called rowan trees in Scotland but they are similar to our mountain ash trees.
This tale was told to us by a bus driver on our first visit to Mull. Actually, we usually take the bus across Mull to Fionnphort and board the ferry (a converted landing craft) to the Holy Island of Iona. But this blog isn't about Iona, a magical place, it's about rowan trees.
The driver pointed out the tumbled down ruins of a stone cottage high up on a hill. "A road worker used to live there," he said sorrowfully. "And this is what happened to him. He had to tear down on old wall to clear the way for a new road. A small rowan tree was growing out of a crack in the wall. Thinking nothing of it, he tore out the tree and tossed it aside. He was a stranger to the island, perhaps that accounted for his action."
The driver was a natural story teller with a flair for keeping his listeners on tenterhooks. He continued. "Another worker berated the man. 'Do you not know what'll happen to you for taking down a rowan tree?' The man shrugged. 'I'm not fool enough to believe tales of fairies and goblins. Let's get on with our work.' "And they did."So? I thought. What next? "A fortnight later, the man was home in his cottage when a huge rock crashed down the hill, smashed into the building and killed him." The driver pulled in at a lay-by to let a car pass. "What a fool, he was. Fairies live in rowan trees and they do not like being disturbed. Cut down a rowan tree and the fairies escape to wreak vengeance on the evil one who cuts down their tree."
I didn't think fairies did bad things but the rowan tree fairies do. Tales of rowan trees danced in my head and being part Celt, I believed every word and alerted our family.
When our son and his family moved into their new home close to Toronto, a mountain ash tree was growing in the corner of their garden. The rowan tree being a close relative to the mountain ash gave our daughter-in-law pause for thought. The tree in their garden would stay. She wasn't going to take any chances on letting the fairies out.
And there it is to this day. Grown tall and loaded with red berries in the late summer it's makes a mess around their pool but no one dares to mess with that tree!
On that same bus ride across Mull the driver had another riveting tale. I'll save that for another day. Do you want to read it? Leave a comment.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Getting in "the zone" is the aim of most writers. To let go. To write without thinking. Letting the story pour out. That is going to be my main writing goal.
Being in the zone. I was in an accident on a starry winter night in the Arctic. I was visiting our foster son and staying with the teacher and his wife, Helen, the village nurse. On that starry night, we started off to cross the frozen ice to have a meal with the RCMP corporal and his wife on the other side of the fiord. I was sitting on the komatic (a sled) pulled by a Skidoo driven by the teacher, with Helen and their little boy as passengers. We headed down the snowy hill to cross the ice, the Skiddo hit a bank of pressure ice, I pitched forward and crashed into the tow bar.
I rememer lying in the snow, blood pouring from a deep cut on my jaw and staring up at the starry sky. Time stood still. I was part of the universe. I was floating in painless space.
Too soon, I was walked back up the hill to the house where Helen took over. The cut on my jaw required stitches. Helen was afraid my throat would swell and I'd die. She stitched me up, put an ice pack on my throat and I lived to tell the tale. That "moment in time," remains a with me.
Another timeless moment - sitting high and dry under a rocky ledge high up in the mountains, eating my lunch sandwich, watching the rain pouring down and thinking, "I am here. In this place." Me and the rain and the dripping trees. Quiet.
I'm rambling on about being in the moment. Time is precious. Take time to smell the flowers. To really look at a tree and wonder at its size. To linger over a morning cup of coffee with someone you love. To hold the hand of a small child. Precious moments too soon gone.
Thanks for stopping by. Have you had a timeless moment? Are you willing to share it with me and whoever comes by?
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I wanted to import toads into our garden to eat slugs but there were no toads available on the southern part of Vancouver Island. We have had one or two grass snakes show up but I haven't seen one for years. But - we don't have a lot of slugs either. Perhaps we have snakes in the grass! Or slinking around the flower beds.
Speaking of which. The flowers are particularly beautiful this time of year. Is it the change in light from the sun as it slants away from us that makes the colours so brilliant? I fear my tomatoes will not ripen. I have two plants loaded with tomatoes. We've had a cool sort of summer. Some sunny days and some rainy days. I'll pick the biggest of the tomatoes, line a box with newspaper and cozy them up in a dark place to ripen. Friends assure me this works. We shall see.
If any of you are on Facebook. Look me up.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I spent almost an hour before the stuff was ready for the oven. I decided that whoever made up the prep time had two assistants. One on the left to gather the onions, the garlic, the can of tomato sauce, the red wine vinegar/red wine, the orange zest, the lemon zest, the lemon juice, the brown sugar and the beef bouillon. This helper had to chop the onions and the garlic and prepare the zest. Did I mention, this same helper had to find the herbs and spices?
Imagine me doing the cooking I do the actual browning of the shanks, the onions and the garlic and add the rest of ingredients, then I retire with a glass of wine to read a book while -
The helper on the right cleans up the mess!
25 minutes to prepare is a fiction.
One last note. May years ago my husband and I visited Hawaii and had a wonderful meal at a hotel in Honolulu. The bread was fabulous. I asked for the recipe and it was graciously given to me. I used to make our bread. From scratch. One of the items in the recipe was this.
"Butter the size of a gold ball." I was entranced. Back home I discussed this with our daughter, Lesley. We tried to picture the gold ball in the fairy tale. You know the story. The princess accidentally knocked her gold ball down the well and the frog caught it. She had to kiss the frog to retrieve the ball. Sigh, he changed into a handsome prince and they lived happily ever after.
My husband, he of the logical mind, suggested it was a typo. Not gold ball but golf ball. At that point the recipe lost its allure. I felt like weeping.
Some day I may tell you about the time I made Hazel's Lemon Bomb. From a recipe!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Imagine if you will hundreds of little toads heading for the high ground. Imagine highway staff doing their best to help by setting up plastic fences along Highway 19 to herd the little guys into bluckets for safe transport across the busy road. The highway was recently upgraded but they didn't think about making a toad crossing tunnel under the road. However, a local scientist who knows more about toads than I ever will says a tunnel isn't a good idea.
Imagine if two Western male toads meet in the tunnel and their defensive instinct kicks in! They don't really want to fight (sensible chaps!) and they back up and cause traffic jams.
Imagine a traffic jam of toads. I know what a bucket half full of baby toads is like. Years ago when we lived in Toronto we drove our Innuit foster son to visit friends at a summer cottage in the Muskoka region. Bob Montgomery took Simionie out at dusk and they gathered lots and lots of baby toads in a bucket. Simi wanted to bring them home to Toronto.
Imagine the bucket tipping and little toads leaping around my feet as I'm driving down an eight lane highway. I persuaded him to leave the toads in the country which he did.
Life is never dull. I will have reason to make merry on September 6th when my contemporary romance, Isabelle's Diary is released by Cerridwen Press, an e-publisher. Check my web site for details. Make me happy and order my book. My historical romance, A Very Difficult Man, was published on February 1st. There's an excerpt on my web site. www.anitabirt.com
Is there anyone out there? Drop by and comment on my blog.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I'll leave you sweating over that and pursue another topic of great interest to salamander lovers. I can't spell "afficiandoes" so lovers will have to do.
Following is a quote from The Times Colonist Newpaper. "The Canadian federal parks agency plans to install tunnels under a stretch of highway at a cost of about $40,000 to end years of carnage among the long-toed salamander of Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta."
How about that? It warmed my heart to read it. The quote continues, "The project is aimed at diverting the 13-centimetre amphibians under the pavement during their nocturnal journeys between a mountainside and a lake where they breed."
13-centimetre is very small. The poor little critturs don't have a chance under an 18 wheeler or a family SUV. I think it is so sweet to think about them trekking down a mountainside, daring to cross a busy highway to breed in a lake. Sigh.
I write romance novels and my characters never have to take those kind of risks. Check out my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. He, the difficult man, did throw books but she, my dauntless heroine, threw them right back. My books are published by Cerridwen Press. I have a new one coming out onf September 6th. ISABELLE'S DIARY. No books tossed around but something strange happened in the Welsh town of Llandrindod Wells. Can ghosts appear in broad daylight?
About the parrot refuge. The first person who sends the correct answer will receive - let me think. I'll give it more thought and return tomorrow to see if someone out there has read my blog.
Check my web site for my e-mail address.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
A story begins. But this one of mine didn't quite. I had a setting for a story and a place to start but I didn't have a plot or a cast of characters. I didn't have a story to tell from start to finish. Taking a leap into the future I began to write. Here are the first few paragraphs. Felicity is the name of the female lead.
"Felicity admired the handsome black wrought iron gate and rubbed her fingertips over the name, Tycara, and wondered what it meant. The beautiful garden beyond the gate was out of place on the rugged Cornwall coast where far down to her right white-washed cottages in the old smuggling town glowed in the late afternoon sun.
The garden seemed magical. Exotic plants and shrubs blossomed in organized beds. Directly ahead of her at the rear of the garden a stone wall covered in Virgina creeper rose to the top of the cliff side. Flagstone steps hugged the edge of the wall and wound upwards until they disappeared under a small stand of trees. Tempted to take a few shots of the garden Felicity slipped her camera from its case.
Caught red-handed snapping pictures Felicity almost dropped her camera. Two young girls identically dressed in long white dresses, white stockings and white shoes with gold buckles, danced down the flagstone steps and ran towards her. Silvery bands on their blonde curls twinkled in the sunlight. White gauzy material floated from their shoulders.
"Have you come to take tea with us?" The smaller girl asked.
"Jane, we should introduce ourselves before speaking with a stranger." She curtsied prettily. "I am Elizabeth."
"I am Jane," said the other. "We are sisters. I am seven and Elizabeth is eight."
Felicity smiled at them "My name is Felicity and I haven't been invited for tea." From the corner of her eye she noticed a stocky muscular man approaching from a greenhouse at the far end of the garden. He had a long handled spade slung over his shoulder. Time to leave, she thought. He looked mean as a sidewinder."
I will leave you there as I brainstorm where this story is going. I've written 14,000 words and decided I should have a plot. Already it has a Kafka like feel to it.
My book, A Very Difficult Man, Cerridwen Press is available now.
Isabelle's Diary, Cerridwen Press, will be available September 6.
Friday, August 24, 2007
But in and around the Juan de Fuca Strait are pods of orcas, sometimes called killer whales but that's a misnomer, unless you're a salmon and end up as an orca's dinner. There's a cause for celebration in the orca world. A new baby was born to the L Pod and named L110. Its mother is 17 years old, L83. Another birth was celebrated in J pod so that's good news. L Pod has 43 members, K Pod has 19 and J Pod has 25.
Some not so good news. A barge tipped near the orca whale reserve on Johnson Strait dumping diesel fuel into the water on August 20. Fortunately it has dissipated and the whales seem to be okay. They are still calling. The orcas rub themselves on the rocks and beach and commercial vessels are not allowed to get close.
Apart from the resident orcas, transient orcas do turn up now and then and these are the bad guys come to town. Given half a chance they will attack, kill and eat another orca. They will dine on unwary seals and sea lions.
That's the whale story for the time being.
Back to other important news. My contemporary romance, ISABELLE'S DIARY, will be released on September 6th - to much fanfare I hope. As of now my two books published by Cerridwen Press, A Very Difficult Man, a historical romance and Isabelle's Diary are e-published. Word is afoot that some Cerridwen Press books will appear in print within the next few months. They will be competively priced. I will send out word on Facebook and on my Blog. Stay posted.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
About the shortbread. My Scottish mother used to make the best shortbread, always for Christmas. I have the recipe somewhere. A piece of her shortbread slying dipped in a glass of sherry was yummy.
I'm off to create a few pages of my Cornwall story.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This is the moment when something magical happens. You breathe deeply and relax into the moment. The actor draws you into the scene.
And so it is with starting a book. If you're like me, you read the back cover of the book. If the blurb interests you, you flip the book open to Page One, Chapter One and begin reading.
This is where the author is like the actor entering from Stage Left. Does the author draw you into the scene? So much depends on those first paragraphs. The magical moment has to catch the reader by surprise. Makes her want to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Open any book on your shelf, romance, mystery, SciFi, paranormal, Regency, historical and read the first page. Open Pride and Prejudice and read the famous first paragraph penned by the wonderful Jane Austen.
Or open my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man and read the first two pages. Haven't purchased it? It's available from Cerridwen Press as an e-book.
Isabelle's Diary, published by Cerridwen Press, will be available for purchase on September 6, 2007. It's a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. Can a ghost appear on a sunny June morning weeping over a diary in a cafe?
Thursday, August 9, 2007
In 1996 I wrote a sad little item for the Vancouver Chapter Romance Writers of America titled. "They Only Hurt When I laugh." I received three rejections in one week. Our family was visiting. I guess I drooped around the kitchen because my granddaughter, Taylor, threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug and a kiss. "It's all right, Grandma."
An hour later I went to my bedroom. There was a folded piece of paper on my pillow. A note from eleven year old Taylor. Here it is, verbatim.
Dear Grandma. I'm very sorry you got rejected. I know how it feels. I got rejected from the co-ed basketball team even though I'm very good and so are you! So you got rejected a couple of times, big deal. Even the best seller writers got rejected at least a hundred times. If you really don't think you're good at romance then try something else. I am very proud my grandma's an author! Remember in my fables, the story dreamers? Well,the moral is follow your dreams no matter what anyone says! If your dream is writing then so be it. Never ever ever let me hear you say give up. So keep your chin up and keep on WRITING.
Love you forever, Grandpa too! (Luv yu!) Down the side of the letter she drew pictures illustrating her text.
Bless that girl. I didn't give up and now have four books contracted by Cerridwen Press. A Very Difficult Man, released on February 1 and Isabelle's Diary to be released on September 6th. Watch my web site; www.anitabirt.com for news and excerpts.
Taylor has started an Anita Birt fan club on Facebook. Check it out. Be my friend.
Make writers happy. Buy their books.