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.


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.

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?


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


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. for a little blurb and an excerpt.
Happy Reading

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.


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.


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.

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?


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 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?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


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.


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 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.

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!


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.

Is there anyone out there? Drop by and comment on my blog.

Anita Birt