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.


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.

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.


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.

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.



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.

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.


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.


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.

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.