Saturday, December 29, 2007

Missing


I've been missing for days but have decided to appear and inform everyone who adores my books I am back. Isabelle's Story is out and ready to order. It's a historical romance, 1896-1900, the story of Isabelle Linden the girl who wrote the diary. Glance out the window on the cover and imagine Isabelle and her lover, Sir Harry Fairfield making love in a leafy glade in the hills above Llandrindod Wells, Wales.
I posted an excerpt on my previous blog. It's the first time Isabelle meets Sir Harry and it's a disaster for her. However, she writes about him in her diary. She can't forget him and Harry can't forget her.
I'll go on to another item of business. Quite by accident I discovered that an old book of mine, for which I own the copyright and the cover from A Very Difficult Man, were posted on a Free site. 36 copies of my book were downloaded. Free! I have asked for payment. But haven't a hope in hell of receiving it. I had my material removed from the site and asked the site owner why he/she allowed copyright material to appear without first checking the source. This kind of thing is so hard to deal with. 36 copies! And no royalty cheques. It's enough to make me weep or stamp my feet. I really am angry. What kind of people do this to hard working authors struggling to make a living or, at the very least, who look forward to fat royalty cheques?
Enough. Have a Happy New Year and for my author friends, may you enjoy many sales during 2008.
Anita

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Excerpt for Isabell's Story


There it is. The cover for my historical romance, Isabelle's Story. My book will be released on December 27 by Cerridwen Press. It's the story of Isabelle Linden who wrote the diary featured in Isabelle's Diary. The first book is a contemporary romance. Both books are set in and around Llandrindod Wells, Wales, an old spa town once famously known for its healing waters.
The excerpt I've chosen is the first time Isabelle meets Sir Harry Fairfield. Not under the most favourable circumstances. Isabelle is mortified. Harry is attracted to her. Read on.

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.
They cast withering glances at Isabelle and one turned to the other, laughing.
“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.”
He did not mention the girl thought they spoke French like Spanish cows.
END of the excerpt.
You can order my book on December 27th to download on your e-reader or other reading device or download on laptop to read at your leisure. Thanks for your support.
Anita

Friday, December 14, 2007

Life on the Christmas track















That's where I've been for the past many days. Shopping, thinking about shopping, wrapping packages and sending them on their way. Sent the last one this morning to our friends, The Franciscan Sisters of The Eucharist, Bridal Veil, Oregon. Christmas crackers are an English/Canadian tradition. We introduced them to the Sisters several years ago and continue the tradition. With presents on their way to family and friends I can now concentrate on my writing and showing you the cover for Isabelle's Story. It will be released on December 27. Watch for the grand opening. Well, maybe not very grand. Just me telling you about Isabelle's Story, a historical romance.
It's the sequel to Isabelle's Diary. I'm calling them my Isabelle Books. I'll be posting an excerpt tomorrow.

I have the cover for my time travel, Ring Around The Moon to show you. It's very different from my last books from Cerridwen Press. I had to get used my "New" look. Ring Around The Moon will be released on March 27, 2008.
Drop by my blog or my web site, www.anitbirt.com
Anita

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Characters

Yesterday I blogged about secondary characters in two of my published books. My third book, release date, December 27, (no cover to show you yet. Wait for it!) Isabelle's Story is a historical romance and tells the story of Isabelle Linden, the girl who wrote the diary featured in Isabelle's Diary. Are you still with me? One of my favourite secondary characters in Isabelle's Story is the shepherd who reminds me of the shepherds who heard angel voices and followed the Star to find Jesus and his mother in the stable at Bethleham.

My shepherd was not guided by a star but by his own instinct that something was wrong and he must not pass by. I'll not say another word. I want you to meet him in Isabelle's Story.
SURPRISE
That's the cover for my time travel romance, RING AROUND THE MOON, release date, March 27, 2008. There's a wonderful secondary character in that book who arrived unexpectedly after I started writing my book. I think you'll enjoy meeting her when I blog about her closer to the release date of RING AROUND THE MOON.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Something wonderful

That's my first book with Cerridwen Press. One of the fascinating secondary characters in my book is Riena Stanley, a gypsy fortune teller. Riena is a childhood friend of Catherine Thurston, my heroine. Quite by chance, Catherine comes across a gypsy camp while chasing a young lad who'd been poaching pheasants on the Glenmore estate. Riena invites Catherine into her caravan where she takes out the precious crystal left to her by her grandmother and tells Catherine's future, naming her future husband. Catherine takes that with a grain of salt, has a meal with the gypsies and returns to the manor.Weeks later Riena, bruised and beaten by her husband, seeks help from Catherine to escape his brutality and boards a bride ship to Canada. What happens next? Buy my book. There are two wonderfu love stories. Gypsy spells. I plan to write about Riena after she arrives in Victoria, British Columbia and sets up shop selling ribbons, bows and trinkets.

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.

www.anitabirt.com

Friday, November 16, 2007

Warm fuzzies and cold pricklies

An item in the newspaper caught my eye. Titled: "Farewell to Arms?" I'll quote most of the short item. "Everyone needs at least one hug a day to cope with the stress of modern life British researchers have found. But a survey by scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University established that the hectic pace of 21st-century living has killed off the hug, leaving a nation starved of daily physical contacts." The Sunday Telegraph.

The item rang a bell for me. Once upon a time in my previous life in Toronto I taught communication skills to various groups and was a lead trainer for the Distress Centre. We had eight training sessions to prepare the volunteers to answer our telephones.

Many callers to the Centre were lonely people with problems. They desperately needed human contact, someone to listen without judging. A kind voice, a listening ear were balm to their troubled souls.

Sadly some people go through life without a hug or a kind word and often suffer physical abuse as well. To remain healthy in this stressful world we all need hugs, physical or virtual or both!

I call hugs, Warm Fuzzies. In my lessons, I ran through the Warm Fuzzie recipe. One hug is barely enough to keep a person functioning and it's important to find a way to collect Warm Fuzzies. My recipe for optimum health is Twelve Warm Fuzzies a day. A small example of a virtual hug. I'm driving and suddenly my lane is blocked off with road work, I glance to the left and a driver signals me to go ahead. That's a Warm Fuzzie for me and for the driver. Find a way to collect them.

For the person with a sad childhood all they know are Cold Pricklies. They're afraid to take a chance on looking or waving or smiling in case they are ignored or slapped down. Teaching them to take a risk, teaching them how to collect Warm Fuzzies is often the work of a psychologist or a thoughtful neighbour/friend. I've skipped through this lesson but am willing to add to it should anyone be interested. Leave a comment.

Count yourself lucky that you know how to collect Warm Fuzzies. In my writing, my characters know how to collect them, if not immediately, they will by the end of the book.

Catherine Thurston, my heroine in, A Very Difficult Man had to deal with the hero's Cold Pricklies. That she taught him how to be comfortable with Warm Fuzzies is the central theme of my story. Check it out.
www.anitabirt.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

LOVE


That's right. This blog and future blogs (if there's an interest in the topic) will deal with the fascinating phenomenon of LOVE. How does it happen? To whom does it happen? What happens next? How do you find it?
Falling in love at first sight seems more dream-like than real. Is it a figment of a romance author's mind or does it happen to ordinary people leading ordinary lives who are surprised when love strikes them and they aren't sure what to do next?
It happened to my husband's cousin, Jill. She was engaged to be married. Her fiance was out of town and Jill's sister, persuaded Jill to go with her to a local dance. No big deal, so Jill went along to please her sister. She was standing with a group of friends when a young man walked over and asked her to dance. During the dance he said, "I'm going to marry you." This is a true story played out exactly like that gorgeous song from the musical South Pacific, One Enchanted Evening. He saw her across a crowded room and fell in love. They did marry and are still happily married with children.
A young woman stepped off the train at a small railway station in Alberta and was greeted by an elderly gentleman. She turned to pick up her suitcase and a male passenger saw her. It was like a lightning strike. Instead of going on to his destination, he got off at the next station and caught the next train back to where he had seen the girl and began asking questions. He did find her and asked her to marry him! Love at first sight really does happen. Yes, they married when the girl was sure of her feelings.
Confusion reigns when love suddenly comes calling. A whole new range of emotions disturbs the judgement of men used to dealing with manageable facts. Walking away isn't an option. Imagine the mindset. Fall in love with a stranger? Impossible. It only happens in romance novels. Not true. It happens in real life. Check it out with your friends. How did you fall in love?
I know it happened to a dear friend of mine, now gone to join her beloved Tom wherever lovers hang out when they leave this world.
My question. Is this a male phenomenon? Do women fall in love at first sight? In my not very scientific research, it's a male thing. What do you think? If you're interested in persuing the subject, please write to me at, anita.birt@gmail.com. I will not use your real name if you prefer to remain anonymous. Tomorrow I'll feature hugs, warm fuzzies and cold pricklies.
I leave you with the two lines of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beautiful poem, How do I love thee? "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
Thanks for spending time with me.
Anita

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cooking class - sort of

Not exactly a cooking class but a lament for the cook who has to cope with a dear husband who refuses to eat certain foods. You know the type? In my case, an altogether okay guy brought up by a Welsh mother who didn't encourage her son to cook. But she wasn't into odd veggies either. Garlic was for those Europeans who didn't know the wonders of Brussels sprouts or boiled cabbage.
But I digress. I've been head cook in our household for lo these many years. Our daughter and son both loved to cook and I'm not responsible for their diets. However, I like to try new recipes now and then. I found a recipe for pork tenderloin with egg plant and zucchini veggies to make a glamorous presentation. Egg plant! Zucchini! You've got to be kidding.
I soldiered on. I learned the difference between an Asian egg plant and an ordinary egg plant. Althought the Asian egg plant was sweeter than the other one, I chose the ordinary one because it was a couple of dollars cheaper a pound.
I proceeded to cook. Knowing dear husband would wince at egg plant and zucchini, I jazzed them up with chopped onion and garlice. The end result? A delicious meal but ... dear husband pushed aside the veggies and ate the steamed broccoli I had prepared as a back-up veggie for him.
And that is my tale of woe for to-day. Once upon a time I decided we should eat vegetarian meals. I quit that caper when I discovered it took me three times longer to prepare vegetarian dinners and the end result looked as appetizing as a dog's dinner.

Now for a little PR about my two books published by Cerridwen Press. A Very Difficult Man, historical romance and Isabelle's Diary, a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. Here are the covers.
Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wandering bears and more.

How to keep them away when they won't go? Port Alberni, a town on northern Vancouver Island has a certain allure for a certain mother bear and her cubs. She appeared with her cubs to feast on garbage and apples, both on and off the tree. The conservation officer was called in to do something. Don't get between a mother bear and her cubs or she'll attack. But she was invading back yards! So, she and her cubs were tranquilized and moved a long distance away from Port Alberni.Two weeks later she was back with cubs. They had wandered over two watersheds and vast forested land to reach the apple feast. What to do? The conservation officer did not want to kill them and was apprehensive about tranquilizing them again. Where could he send them? And that's where I leave you because I don't know how this story ends. When I do, I will let you know. In the meantime ...
Now for something dear to my heart. The hero and heroine of my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. When my heroine, Catherine Thurston, was nineteen her life changed completly from one of privilege to one of counting pennies. In the year before he died her father descended into a kind of madness and gambled away the family fortune. The country house was sold and the stable of fine horses auctioned. Catherine's brother, with no prospects in England, sailed for America. Her mother, Lady Jane Thurston, relied on Catherine to manage the small house she rented in London. Two long time servants, devoted to Lady Jane and Catherine stayed with them.
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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, November 5, 2007

Something new and really, really different.

An interview with Chris Tougas, author of Mechanimals, published by Orca Press, Victoria, British Columbia

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.

Anita
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

Dragon Fruit


What goes around comes around. Early last summer I was carefully picking (with a little tongs) medijool dates from a display in my local supermarket when a young woman standing next to me asked, "Have you tasted dragon fruit?" I shook my head. "They're kind of ugly," I said, "and don't appeal to me."

She picked up a dragon fruit. "I'm going to try one." Luckily I had bookmarks with me advertising my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. I gave her one and asked her to let me know how the dragon fruit tasted. She was returning home to Kelowna that evening and promised to get in touch.

She sent a note to my g.mail address. "Dragon fruit are dull and tasteless." That was months ago and I'd forgotten about dragon fruit. Last week I had a note from a woman named Donna who wanted me for a friend on Facebook. Because she had added her snail mail address I agreed to be her friend. Then I had second thoughts. I couldn't remember ever meeting anyone named Donna and e-mailed her back. Turns out Donna is my dragon fruit friend. I was delighted to link with her again.
There are the bones of a story here. A young man and woman meet over a display of dragon fruit. Why dragon fruit? Because they look wierd. Unnatural. A sure way to strike up a conversation with a pretty girl is to ask if she knows anything about them. Suppose she bursts into tears and runs out of the store. What if he races after her just in time to see her jump on her bike and pedal madly down the street. He's a marathon athlete and follows her at a distance until she wheels into a narrow alleyway between two deserted old brick buildings. When he catches up she has disappeared leaving her bike, the wheels still spinning. The alleyway has a dead end and there are no side doors on the buildings. What happens next? Be my guest. Send in your ideas. We'll have a continuing saga on the Tale of The Dragon Fruit.

In the meantime, I add my book covers to my Blog to encourage you to read an excerpt on my web site, or go to Google Alert and check out Isabelle's Diary or buy my books. It's up to me to publicize my books and encourage buyers to buy.


Anita




Saturday, October 27, 2007

It could only happen ...

A bartender in Pinjarra, Australia, was fined for crushing beer cans between her bare breasts. Picture it, if you can. The woman's breasts must be very lively and tough. I have to stomp on cans to crush them but I don't. I take the empties to the supermarket where I shop and collect the five cents deposit. But to return to the crushed cans and bare breasts ... it's such an interesting topic I can't leave it alone. The woman and her boss were fined $872 for breaching licensing laws. Okay, I'm done with it and move on to something completely different.

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.
Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Writing time

It's a gorgeous autmn day in Victoria and I'm not inclined to put pen to paper or keys to keyboard but here I am writing about why writers write. It's like an itch. A niggle. It's having stories elbowing their way into your consciousness clamoring to be heard. Me first! One cries aloud. Small events will spring a story to life and won't go away.





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 anita.birt@gmail.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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, October 22, 2007

Save the trees! Read e-books


Llandrindod Well, Wales

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.
I have returned minus the excerpt. Check my blog tomorrow. I am serious about saving trees. E-books are evironmentaly friendly. No waste paper used in printing them. Download to your computer, laptop or e-reader. If you are a dyed in the wool print person, you may want to print my book yourself after you have purchased it from Cerridwen Press. Use both sides of the paper.
Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Friday, October 19, 2007

Book Promotion



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.

Anita

www.anitabirt.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And now for something? Elvis Presley?

I had Elvis Presley's favourite sandwich for lunch to-day. It's guaranteed to put on weight. I don't know whether the sandwich started him on a downward spiral into gaining weight and ingesting drugs but it may have. My husband avoids the Elvis sandwich. Why? Because, poor guy, he spent his growing up years in Wales and never tasted peanut butter until he came to Canada.

So here is the Elvis sandwich. It's lovely and gooey and sticks to the roof of your mouth and has to be washed down with cups of tea.
Take two pieces of bread. Butter or margarine the outside of each piece as you would to make a toasted cheese sandwich. Spread one piece with thick peanut butter, slice a banana into thickish slices and dab them carefully on the peanut butter, slap the other piece of bread on top, heat your frying pan and fry/cook your sandwich until the bread browns and the bananas are nice and mushy.

And there you have it. The nourishing Elvis sandwich has calories galore - but what the heck? Indulge now and again.

It's a gorgeous day in my part of the world. Sun is shining. The sky is blue. The air is crisp. And now I'm going to post the cover of Isabelle's Diary, my latest release from Cerridwen Press. A contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. If I knew how to post it down here, I would but I don't how so that's why it's up top of my blog. Hey! I just dragged it down and there it is! I learned a new trick to-day.

Life is full of unwelcome surprises. I discovered water leaking underneath one side of the vanity in our bathroom. Not a lot that I can see but who knows what lies beneath. Our crawl space might be awash with water. I don't visit our crawl space. The plumber is coming on Friday morning. He can go there and have a look.

I'm knitting a little jacket for our next door neighbour's daughter, Kelsey. Kelsey and her husband are expecting their first child next month. And now I must be gone to another place. Enjoy what you're doing.
Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day


Hi to all of you who are madly blogging around the world on this special day. Save the trees, purchase e-published books like mine. I couldn't resist letting the world know about e-books that you can read on your computer, laptop or hand-held reader. No trees lost to manufacture paper. Just a lot to enjoy.
But this is Blog Action Day. I live on the west coast of Canada with the Pacific Ocean on my doorstep so to speak. We our blessed with bountiful sea life and the joy of seeing gray whales and Orcas. And this year a great event occurred. A small group of humpback whales appeared off Vancouver Island. This was hugely interesting to the marine scientists who study whales. Humpbacks have been missing from this area for a long time.
Around Vancouver Island, pods of Orcas swim and procreate - very slowly. There is much excitement when an Orca calf appears swimming beside its mother. One of the Orca pods swims in Johnson Strait and they rub themselves on the rocks. It's a restricted area for ships and other marine craft. But accidents do happen and fuel is spilled. A barge carrying dredging equipment tipped near the restricted area and diesel fuel leaked. Scientists and whale lovers were deeply concerned about the health of the Orcas but weeks later they all seem to be fine.
Out on the east coast of Canada the Federal government has declared a certain area off limits for shipping so the endangered Right Whale can breed in peace. They are in dire danger from ships passing over them.
Big sea lions hang out around Vancouver Island. We had a very cold winter several years ago - mostly we have a mild climate - and a gang of sea lions cruised into one of the local bays. They lie on their backs and wave their flippers in the air - to warm them I guess. Our home is three kilometres from the bay and we can hear them barking. It was fun to watch them lying in the water waving their flippers.
So many little creatures that share our planet find themselves in danger. The Oregon spotted frog, for instance. Although not endangered in Washington and Oregon, it is in British Columbia. Efforts are being made to encourage the frogs to breed. Speaking of which...
Introducing species that don't belong on Vancouver Island can create havoc. A man, of little sense, decided many years ago to raise bull frogs for their legs. Gourmet treats - Frogs legs! However, his business failed and instead of disposing/killing the frogs he let them loose. Now there are huge bull frogs damaging the habitat of our natural frogs. The big suckers eat the spawn and the babies and have been known to snatch a baby duckling and chomp it down. Who knew frogs have teeth?
Canada is blessed with natural resources and a wonderful variety of animals, birds, fish and crawly things. But we have to be careful of what we throw away and where we throw it. As a final note. I read in the paper recently of hikers in Waterton Provicincial Park finding bear scat with a small plastic bag shredded through it. A hiking rule. Carry it in. Carry it out. No one should leave plastic floating freely in our oceans or lying on the land.
I hope everyone enjoyed blogging. I did. I'm not a marine scientist but I've seen whales close up and they are magnificent. Our Orcas are particularly close to my heart. If you feel so inclined you may purchase my books from Cerridwen Press. Hug a tree. Read an e-book.
Anita Birt

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A doggie Tale


Before I post Stephanie's story I have to plug my latest book from Cerridwen Press, Isabelle's Diary. Who was the girl dressed in sombre Victorian black weeping over a diary? That's the story question and you have to read my book to find out the answer.
Now to return to A Doggie Tale. The question is how to copy and paste while I'm blogging.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Now for something completely different

Mike Szaszik is the photographer who snapped this picture of a barn fire in the Cowichan Bay area. It appeared in the October 2nd edition of The Times Colonist under the heading, "All right, which one of you was playing with matches?" (Photo credit Mike Szaszik)

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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, October 8, 2007

It's autumn

The Oregon juncos have returned to our garden after spending the summer elsewhere. I don't know where they breed and raise their young but they grace our garden during the winter months. For those of you unfamiliar with juncos, they are sparrow size birds with blackish heads, white flashes in their tail feathers and pale gray chest. They share our feeders with house finches. Soon I'll put out a suet feeder for the tiny bush tits. They cluster like bees on the feeder.

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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bits and Bites of this and that.




I am partial to amphibians, those dear little toads and frogs with whom we share the world. I Blogged about toads awhile back - don't ask. To add to your knowledge, you should know that Western toads live through out British Columbia and their population is declining, thought to be due to ultra-violet light exposure. Too much sun and not enough sun screen protection. Poor little devils.


Now I read in the paper about the premature deaths of the Oregon spotted frog in BC. Same bad stuff we all ingest, hazardous chemicals and pesticides and polluted air add to the frogs decline. It's the BC population that's declining, the Oregon spotted frogs are in good shape in Washington and Oregon.

Enough about toads and frogs and on to more personal matters. As you all know, if you read my blog, Isabelle's Diary is out there ready and waiting for eager buyers. It's a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist.
Strike up the Band! On December 27th watch for the release of ISABELLE'S STORY. It's a historical romance featuring Isabelle Linden, the girl who wrote the diary. I don't have the cover yet but will post it as soon as the artists at Ellora's Cave create it.
Tomorrow I may post a fairy picture of me but, then again I may not. And I must be more serious about my blog and make it interesting for serious minded visitors.
Anita








Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Something new!




I'm promoting a children's book written by my friend, Chris Tougas. Later in the week I'm going to interview him to find out what makes him tick. Here's the cover of Mechanimals. Chris does all the illustrations and writes the story. It really is a super book. Makes me wish I still had grandchildren to read to. Chris's book is published by Orca Books in Victoria and is available in book stores here on the coast. Your local book store should be able to order it in for you.

It's a gray, rainy day here on the west coast of Canada. A good day to continue writing my historical romance, tentatively named, Estella. She is one of the heroines, the other is Victoria. Estella is a young widow, twenty-nine years old.

Victoria is her eighteen year old niece who has come to stay with Estella to learn how to curtsy properly, engage in mindless conversation with marriageable young men and with any luck capture an heir to a fortune because her family cannot provide a large dowry.


And may I remind you that Isabelle's Diary, is ready for you to purchase from Cerridwen Press. I love royalty cheques.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

News and views



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.

Anita

www.anitabirt.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

About Time


About Time. I thought it would be a good title for my time travel but my editor thought otherwise. My book, due for release on March 27, 2008, is titled Ring Around The Moon. Here's a little teaser about the story. Beth is an American. She is four and half month's pregnant with her first child and rents Quest Cottage in Cornwall for a month to get away from hassles back home in Portland, Oregon and to think through her future as a single Mom. Her midnight arrival under a full moon is peaceful until a man emerges from a nearby stand of trees and calls out.

"Elizabeth, is it really you?"

Mysterious Alan Tremaine has travelled through two centuries of time to the exact location where his house burned to the ground in eighteen hundred and Elizabeth, his pregnant wife perished in the flames. Quest Cottage was built on the site using foundation stones from Alan's ruined home.
Beth and Elizabeth. Same name but ...

What happens next? I loved writing the story of Beth and Alan and I hope you will enjoy reading it when it's published on March 27, 2008.

I will leave you there and post the cover of my newest release, Isabelle's Diary. The cover is beautiful. It's up top because I can't figure out how to post it farther down on the page.
Make my day. Leave a comment or two.
Anita










Thursday, September 20, 2007

My mistake or was it?

If you check my Blog regarding the killing of the grey whale, you will find a comment from someone who seems to know more than I do about the killing of the whale. But the comment came from an unknown person, Mama Fox. If she/he is real I would appreciate an e-mail address to make it authentic. Mama Fox could be a tribal member or a busybody. Who knows?

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Grey Whale's dreadful death

Grey whales travel up and down the west coast of the Unites States and Canada. Although not an endeangered species a moratorium imposed in 1994 prohibits whaling for the greys. But that did not stop five men from the Makah tribe who live near Neah Bay, Washington from heading out in two boats to kill a grey whale. The poor animal died a painful death at their hands.

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

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Sunday, September 16, 2007

News and views from here and there


I'm a newspaper junky. We subscribe to three daily papers, The Globe and Mail and The National Post (both are major Canadian papers) and The Times Colonist, published in Victoria, BC. We get it for the local news. Marshal Mcluhan, famous for his books and studies of the mass media, once remarked. "Start reading the newspaper from the back and work to the front." Because, he said, the good news is at the back and the bad news at the front.

I don't know about other readers' habits but I read letters to the editor first, then check the editorials of the day, then the articles on the Op-Ed page. This is a great start to my day. Then I turn to the front page and work to the back. I choose what I want to read. The Globe and Mail is scanned first and special sections are saved for later in the day. The Times Colonist I go through over lunch. I have a cup of tea and The National Post at four o'clock when my writing day is over.

When my husband and I travel I always pick up a newspaper. He thinks I'm nuts but it's such a tiny obsession and not life threatening as I continue my peculiar ways. As a writer, I find all sorts of interesting items to stir my creative muse.

For instance, The National Post features daily items from Samuel Pepys' Diary, and they make wonderful reading. Here is Samuel Pepys on September 4, 1664. "I have had a bad night's rest to-night, not sleeping well, as my wife observed, and once or twice she did wake me, and I thought myself to be mightily bit with fleas, and in the morning she chid her mayds for not looking the fleas a-days. But, when I rose, I found that it is only the change of the weather from hot to cold, which, as I was two winters ago, do stop my pores, and so my blood tingles and itches all days all over my body, and so continued to-day all the day long just as I was then, and if it continues to be so cold I fear I must come to the same pass, but sweating cured me then, and I hope, and I am told, will this also."
Samuel was cold on September 4th. There were years of cold weather during his time when crops failed leaving the peasant farmers destitute and starving. Global cooling.

Fleas. Writers of historical fiction never mention fleas yet they abounded in those bygone days. And we never mention bed bugs or lice. Why spoil a romance with details of no interest to our readers? Our stories are about the wealthy, the rich, the famous and infamous who have household staff to attend to their bathing requirements. My historical romance, A Very Dfficult Man, takes place in 1854. By then the flush toilet had been invented. And wasn't that a great invention? Along with boilers for heating water for bathing.
I hope you have purchased my book, A Very Difficult man. My second book from Cerridwen Press, Isabelle's Diary, is set in the present time in the old Welsh spa town, Llandrindod Wells. Check out my web site. www.anitbirt.com for a little blurb and an excerpt.
Happy Reading
Anita

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Colourful sayings - Colloquialisms



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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, September 10, 2007

Myths, Legends and Superstitions



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.

Anita
www.anitbirt.com

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Out of it!


My last Blog should have been called "Being in the Zone." But I left out "in." Which goes to show I'm not perfect.


Speaking of something completely different. Do not believe all you hear/read that eating six squares of dark chocolate a day will lower your blood pressure. It won't. Nor will eating cherries cure gout. Snake oil salesmen/women are out there with tales of magical cures with no scientific proof but, if you buy their book filled with tales of magical cures you will be saved. No, you will not be saved you will have shelled out $100.00 to pad their bank account and depleted yours.


But if you want to pad my bank account you may purchase my latest book from Cerrridwen Press. And there is the picture of the beautiful cover. No fake stuff here. This is the real thing. A contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. A good read with a happy ending. Sigh. I love writing romance.
Anita

Being the zone.

Have you ever experienced time stopping? Or seeming to stop? I remember reading about a famous Canadian hockey player who said, "when I'm going full speed down the ice with the puck on my stick, time slows. I'm in a zone."

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?

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Thursday, September 6, 2007

And now for something special!


ISABELLE'S DIARY, my contemporary romance with a paranormal twist is here! My book was released to-day by Cerridwen Press. THIS IS A PROMO. Go to www.Cerridwenpress.com for the price and how to order. (It's $5.95)
I love the cover. In a very subtle way it shows happy and sad motifs. What's my book about? It depends on whether you believe in ghosts. My heroine, Sally Carter, didn't until ...
Can a ghost appear on a bright sunny June morning? Can she sit in a cafe in the Welsh town of Llandrindod Wells weeping over the pages of a diary?
Who is the girl dressed in somber Victorian black whose appearance and sudden disappearance disrupts Sally Carter's orderly life? And why was Sally the only person to see her?
Determined to find the identity of the mysterious stranger, Sally seeks help from handsome Welsh historian Dan Conway. In their search for answers Sally discovers long buried family secrets and a branch of her family tree linking the past to the present time.
When Sally returns to her home in Toronto pieces of the puzzle fall into place. But a question lingers. Who was the weeping girl and why did she disappear without a trace?
Anita

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Toads

A few days ago I told you about the risky ventures of baby Western toads as they tried to cross a busy four lane highway. Did I mention there were four lanes? With lots of big trucks hurtling by? Word went out when a highway maintenance supervisor saw the slick on the road from squashed toads. Not a pretty sight. He moblized a team. They built a little plastic fence to stop the toads crossing and loaded the little guys into buckets and transported them across to safety. According to the newspaper to-day. A million toads were saved! No doesn't that just warm your heart? It did mine.

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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, September 3, 2007

And now for something!




Friends are wonderful, are they not?
My friend, Solveig, is a real sweatheart. She came by this morning and showed me how to put my book covers on my blog.
Aren't they intriguing? Are you ready to click on to www.Cerridwenpress.com to order copies? Be my guest.
I'm supposed to be working on my new book, tentatively titled, Tycara Gate. It takes place in Cornwall on the coast between Polperro and Fowey. My American heroine is caught up in a situation fraught with danger, where nothing is what it seems. And there I must leave you and do something productive like penning five pages of the above story. Or should I go for a walk? I'm on Facebook should you care to take a walk on the internet and look me up. There's not much there that isn't here on my blog but I hope to stir up interest in my books by featuring me in as many places as possible.
ISABELLE'S DIARY will be released by Cerridwen Press on September 6th. That's this Wednesday.
Anita

Sunday, September 2, 2007

And now for - wait for it

You may leave now unless you are interested in cooking. My rant is about recipes where prep time is noted. Yesterday I tried a new recipe for lamb shanks. Prep time - 25 minutes.

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!

Anita
www.anitbirt.com

Saturday, September 1, 2007

And now for something else

My last blog was about parrots and three-toed salamanders but I have another little crittur to worry about now. "Young Western toads are running a deadly highway gauntlet as they hop inland to high ground from the swamp where they spent their tadpole months." That's a quote from The Times Colonist.

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.

Anita Birt

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Now for something competely different

No. No. I'm not going to talk about dead parrots. The Monty Python skit is still as fresh and funny as it was when John Cleese and Michael Palin first did it. My parrot story is to ask you (I assume someone out there is paying attention) where the World Famous Parrot refuge is located?

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.

Anita
Check my web site for my e-mail address.
www.anitabirt.com

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Once Upon A time

Once Upon A Time. How many old fashioned childrens' stories began with those words? Even as I typed them my breathing slowed and I had that lovely feeling that something wonderful was about to happen.

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.

"Hello."

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.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com
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

Whales

If you are interested in whales and their comings and goings, Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands have a lot to offer. Five magnificent blue whales including a calf have been sighted off the Queen Charlotte Islands. They weigh in at 100 tonnes each. Blue whales were hunted almost to extintion until hunting was banned in 1965. Only about 10,000 now exist.

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.

Anita Birt
www.anitabirt.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Short and Sweet

Short and sweet - the secret to making good shortbread - with butter, of course. But I'm not plugging recipes I'm trying,again to put my book covers on my Blog. So, here I go again. I'm supposed to find a button that says "Insert picture." Okay, I clicked on the icon that says "add image" I go to browse - oh what the hell. I've tried and it's not working.

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.

Anita Birt
www.anitabirt.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Catching a Wave

I've never surfed in the ocean but "catching a wave" is like starting a book with a HOOK. Without the hook there's no ride. So let's begin this lesson. Think of a theatrical performance. You sit in your seat, the lights in the theatre dim, all chattering ceases, there's an expectant hush, the curtain rises, from stage left an actor appears and speaks...

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?

Anita Birt
www.anitabirt.com

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Doors

Close one door and a window opens or is it, if a door closes, a window opens or what if a window closes and crushes your fingers and you scream for help but the door is closed or - what the hell. This is supposed to inspire people, writers, especially, to soldier on as rejections land with a thump in the mail box and they are supposed to SMILE.

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.

Anita Birt