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.

Check my web site for my e-mail address.

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.


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


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

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

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

Thursday, August 9, 2007


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; 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

Friday, August 3, 2007

Cover up

Seems the cover for A Very Difficult Man has decided to hide out in my documents file for awhile longer. I blogged yesterday and it has disappeared into cyber space. Life gets more difficult by the minute. My blog was about writing from the heart. Is there another way?

Writing is not a choice. It's something we have to do. But we do need a break. I had one recently with my husband, son and daughter-in-law. We visited the north-west coast of Vancouver Island. It rained mostly every day but we did get out to walk on the beach. I read and watched the surf pounding on the rocks below our window and had a wonderful time.

My latest book, Isabelle's Diary will be released by Cerridwen Press on September 6th. If you'd like to read the sequel watch my webiste for news of Isabelle's Story to be released on December 27th. It's the story of the girl who wrote the diary.

In the meantime. Happiness for a writer is when readers purchase her books. You can buy A very Difficult Man from Cerridwen Press. If you like historical romance, you will love reading about Catherine Thurston and her problems with the bad tempered, Lord Glenmore.