Monday, December 15, 2008
I miss him. Our family miss him. He was thoughtful, loving and well respected both in the business world and in his personal life. All those who met him knew him as a very special person. Honourable. I love that word. William (Bill) Birt. A man of honour.
Thanks for dropping by.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
1. Eye to Body: Looking at someone's face or glancing over his/he body can be memorable. We often make instant judgments about a person after one look. So it is in romance. One look and there's a connection. The earth moves, figuratively. Love at first sight.
2. Eye to Eye: Eye contact is powerful. Too much can be off putting or frightening. Can a powerful man intimidate others by coolly assessing them with his eyes? It'd feel like being strip searched.
3. Voice to Voice: Your characters begin to talk to each other. This can be fun if your heroine is trying to extricate herself from a situation she'd rather avoid. In my book, Isabelle's Diary, my hero, Dan Conway was so intrigued by my heroine's voice, he wanted to meet her. He has a rather nice Welsh accent that intrigued her. Describing voices is important. How do you show it?
4. Hand to Hand: That first touch. It may be casual, him touching her arm, briefly. Or he may sweep her into his arms! A bit fast at a first meeting but he may save her from falling as she trips on a pine cone (I did once) or a stone and started to fall. Can be a cliche so use carefully! Touching her elbow as they make their into a ballroom. Something a gentleman would do.
5. Arm to Shoulder: This signals intimacy at some level. A character may not be comfortable and duck away. Probably because it affected her emotionally and she's nervous about getting involved. Conflict possibly with what he wants and what she wants. Slow everything down!
6. Arm to Waist: Can signal comfort in a relationship. The characters are moving closer to deeper intimacy. Are they ready for this? In a romance, many things can happen at this point. A crisis. New information that casts doubt on one of the characters. Conflict. Move the story to a different level.
Tomorrow I will finish the 12 Steps to Intimacy. In the meantime, here is the cover for my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. Catherine Thurston, my heroine, didn't have time for #1, Eye to Body, before Lord Glenmore threw a book at her.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In Flander's Fields the poppies grow between the crosses,
Rrow on row to mark our place
and in the sky, the larks still bravely singing fly, scarce heard amidst the guns below.
We are the dead. Short Days ago we lived, Felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flander's Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you, from failing hands we throw the torch.
Be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flander's Fields.
The poem was written by a Canadian doctor, John McCrae who served in World War I. He was killed later in the war.
I wrote the poem from memory! I learned it in Grade Eight and have never forgotten it.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I am so pleased with the review from Romance Junkies I have to tell the blogging world about it. Here's a little taste.
"ANITA BIRT has filled her novel, A VERY DIFFICULT MAN, with rich detail and interesting characters. I really enjoyed the pacing of the plot because it allows the reader to get to know the many characters well and get a feel for the setting."
There's more: "The novel is very romantic. The way Catherine and Richard flirt with one another is funny and sweet but there are also enough misunderstandings and obstacles between them to keep things interesting and make the ending that much more satisfying for the reader.I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys thoughtfully written historical romances."
My book will be released in paperback shortly. Buy it now in e-format and make my day. Go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com for an excerpt of A VERY DIFFICULT MAN and discover my other books. Isabelle's Diary, Isabelle's Story, Ring Around The Moon and Too Young To die. Enjoy
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Liz Jasper is my guest to-day. The cover on the left is the cover for her print version of UNDERDEAD. Scary stuff!
Questions for Liz Jasper
I chose to interview Liz hoping she would convince me to love reading about vampires who live for hundreds of years in a strange underworld before emerging into the present time. I mean what is attractive about male and female vampires who suck blood, hide from the sun and have dreadful teeth.
Over to Liz Jasper
Your prize winning mystery, UNDERDEAD, made me sit up and take notice about vampires. You followed that success with UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL. Vampire myths have been around in various forms for centuries. What is their enduring appeal?
Well certainly not the looks. The Dracula in Bram Stoker's classic novel was a shriveled hairy thing. Thankfully, liberties have been taken with that aspect of the story over time. These days we like our vampires hot and sexy. I should be clear here that I don't write erotic novels. Or dark ones. Though my main vampire character, Will, IS very attractive, as are all the other members we meet of his Undead clan. It makes sense, doesn't it, that current vampires looking to add a new vampire to the group, would pick someone they liked looking at, since they're going to be looking at them a long, long time.
Which sort of answers your question (finally). I think part of the appeal is that a vampire who chooses to turn you undead, is essentially choosing to be with you forever. There's also a hurdle to overcome for the person who is becoming undead. Assuming it's their choice to become a vampire (which in today's vampire books it often is, especially in romances), they are in effect choosing to give up their life to be with vampire. It's a pretty big step and can be very heady stuff.
Having said that, while that issue is implicit in the romantic subplot of my mysteries (or my heroine would have been with him by chapter three of the first book, I mean who's kidding whom? He's hot.), what I find interesting about vampires is that we know they're not real. I mean, if someone bit you on the neck, you wouldn't think, "Oh no! Vampire!" You'd think "Freak taking the Goth thing a leeettle too seriously."
In most vampire books, the second the vampire comes on scene, we shift into the vampire world. In the Underdead books, my protagonist Jo Gartner stays in her world, as a (new and struggling) middle school science teacher, and has to deal with the fact she's turning into a vampire in that context. How does she explain to people what's going on? When she can't tell them and she's not sure she believes it herself? If she wasn't a strong person and didn't have a sense of humor, she'd go nuts.
Before writing UNDERDEAD, did you do extensive research?
No. Unless you count watching lots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Yes, I admit it here.) I wanted to be able to have Jo respond in the way anyone would, which meant I didn't want to bog down with too much vampire lore. Having said that, I have done some research or I wouldn't have Will's back story in the back of my mind to draw from.
What about the myth appealed to you sufficiently to write two books featuring a wickedly handsome vampire and a delightful human heroine? Do you plan to continue the series?
I find it fascinating to throw a myth shrouded in darkness and romance into the bright light of daily life. That's where the humor comes in. I mean, how do you explain to your mother why you have a garlic necklace on? And what do you do when she tells you to take the darned thing off, when you know what might be lurking around the next corner? I have books three and four plotted out, so yes, I'll continue the series. Jo's dilemma between the two men in her life (Will, the vampire who is her perfect match if only he weren't undead, and Gavin, the hunky vampire-slaying detective who represents the normalcy which is all she really wanted but now can't have either) gets more complicated and more fraught with tension.
Your writing style, Liz. Are you a plotter or a "pantser?" Plotters are organized. Pantsers are disorganized. Plots are like straitjackets to them. Where do you fit?
I vascillate between the two extremes. I don't know how anyone can write a mystery with out plotting out a lot of stuff, though I know some do, and do it very well. But I can't write without knowing where I'm going.
Blurb for Underdead
Science teacher Jo Gartner thinks teaching geology to hormonal pre-teens is deadly... until she is bitten by an inept vampire and becomes UNDERDEAD--all the problems of being a vampire, none of the perks.
When she finds a body on her classroom floor with teeth marks in his neck, she must figure out "whodunit" before her Underdead secret gets out. But she's running out of time. The detective in charge of the case is dogging her every move, her vampire traits are evolving in new and embarrassing ways, and someone wants Jo dead...the traditional way!
Blurb for Underdead in Denial
Gorgeous, enigmatic vampire Will is back and almost undead Jo Gartner is more determined than ever to avoid all things vampire and maintain a normal life. And what's more normal than doing community service to help a lovesick friend? But getting dressed up in a Halloween costume for a haunted house fundraiser is not what Jo had in mind. Especially when one of the extras turns up dead
You have convinced me to have a second look at vampires and their stories. Thanks for joining me on Hallowe'en when the witches, goblins and vampires are abroad. And for readers interested in something completely different, check my web site, www.anitabirt.com to learn more about me and what I write. Not vampires!
Friday, October 24, 2008
At that point I think my husband poked me because I was snoring or snorting (not true, of course. Ladies do not snore or snort Do they?)
I forgot about the dream. I drove into the parking lot of the market where I shop and there was a young man carrying a cardboard box right in front of my eyes. All very strange and very interesting. I don't know the young man but he was dressed like the man in my dream.
Next item. On my first "breaking a dream" blog I wrote about dreaming of a horse and the following morning opened our morning paper and the first picture I saw was a horse. It's all in my previous blog. Breaking a dream is supposed to bring good luck. A horse is a powerful symbol in a dream, says my author friend, Teri. Within days I heard from All Romance E-Books that Isabelle's Diary to be featured in their January RT was randomly drawn to have a review in Romantic Times. I am thrilled to bits. All is in order. I hope to see the review in the February issue of RT.
Thanks for dropping by,
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Last night I dreamed I was with a group of people and for reasons I can't recall, I had to ride a horse. I have NEVER ridden a horse but it was imperative I do so. The horse was mostly brown with some black. I got into the saddle and grasped the reins. The horse knew I was a rank amateur and attempted to balk. I managed to control him and off we went. I was very nervous about handling the big animal. I had to get on an elevator with the horse, which I did. When I got off I was in a big space walled with shiny aluminum. Then I wakened up.
I picked up The Globe and Mail this morning and opened it. The first picture on page three was taken at the famous Vienna Riding School where for the first time in over one hundred years women are being trained to ride the white Lapazziner stallions. The picture was a young woman preparing to dismount from one of the stallions. A trainer held a lead rope.
Will this be my lucky day? What might happen? My book, A Very Difficult Man, will be released in print! It is scheduled for October/November.
I hope the Dream Maker is hard at work on my behalf.
Thanks for coming by. Do you dream? In colour? Black and White? Have you ever heard about "breaking a dream?"
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Dr. Snow was one of the first physicians to study and calculate dosages for the use of ether and also chloroform as surgical anaesthesia. He personally administered chloroform to Queen Victoria when she gave birth to the last two of her nine children.
Thanks to Her Majesty having an anaesthetic during the births, she set the stage for other women to request pain relief during child birth. We have come a long way since the nineteenth century and have much to be thankful for.
And that brings me to another subject linked to A Very Difficult Man. BRIDE SHIPS. But that's for another day when I link a scene in my book to the voyages of the Bride Ships to Victoria, Canada, in the mid nineteenth century.
I'll post a short excerpt about my heroine, Catherine Thurston and why she was studying shipping notices at the London docks. Her beautiful gypsy friend, Riena Stanley, had already embarked on a bride ship but Riena had no intention of becoming a bride when she disembarked in Victoria. But that's another story.
Monday, October 6, 2008
What is she to do after he threw one book at her and a second that thudded against the door as she escaped from the monster? Catherine opened the door a crack and sat outside in the hallway to converse with him about current events. You can find this scene in the e-book format of my book on page ten.
"There is cholera in London," she ventured. The year is 1855
At the time, 1855, Catherine was unaware of the detective work of Dr. John Snow who did not agree with popular opinion that cholera was caused from breathing foul air. The year is 1854. Germ theory was not widely accepted at the time but Dr. Snow believe cholera was a water borne illness and set out to prove it. A cluster of cases in and around the Soho area confirmed his suspician. People were drawing their water from a Broad Street well. Dr. Snow drew a map illustrating how cases of cholera were centered in the area around the pump.
Further investigation showed the well had been dug only three feet from an old cesspit that had begun to leak fecal material. He persuaded the local council to remove the pump handle and cholera cases in the area dwindled and eventually ceased. But the River Thames was also polluted with sewage and a source of cholera.
So how did Catherine get on with the monster? He dismissed her news-of-the-day comments and ordered her to talk about herself which she refused. Want to read more? My book is available at www.Cerridwenpress.com. Click on historical romance. Click on my cover and off you go to the check out. I know there's a shortcut to make the ordering easy. I have to learn the trick so you can enjoy the story of Catherine and Lord Glenmore
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Before getting serious about creating a buzz for my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man, I decided to give you this lovely piece of information about a Norwegian witch. I was looking through a notebook yesterday and a little clipping from a newspaper fell out. I may be treading on someone's copyright toes and hope he/she will forgive me. Here is the story.
Ding, dong ...
Lena Searbninga, a 33-year old Norwegian witch, has received a 53,000 kroner ($9,800) grant from the Industrial and Regional Development Fund to make and sell magic potions door to door. "I'll travel to customers' homes," she told The Associated Press. "This is what I always wanted to do." Her specialty elixirs include night creams for vivid dream, a day cream to combat indecisiveness and a foot cream to change a user's bad habits. A government official said her business plan was "pretty reasonable and well thought out."
I'd love to have Lena come knocking at my door but she's in Norway and I'm in Canada. When we lived in Wales gypsies used to come knocking at our door selling trinkets and clothes pins (to hang out laundry) I was afraid not to buy a few clothes pins in case the gypsy but a hex on me.
Check out my next blog. I'll be back in London, circa 1854/55 connecting my book with events in London at that time.
Friday, September 26, 2008
But and there's the problem I have. Vampires can't come out in daylight or enjoy lounging naked on a sunny beach. Making love in the sum is so glorious why would any thinking woman give up the sun to follow her lover into the dark? There's a new movie out (can't remember the name) with a male vampire. The photo in the paper showed him with two sharp teeth. Ugh.
Are there women vampires emerging to lure real honest-to-god men into their arms? Or does it only work the other way? Male vampire. Human female. I believe some mad scientist has created artificial blood so the vampires can forego the real thing.
That's my huge rant for to-day. Tell me true all you bloggers out there, what is it about vampires that makes them so popular? Comments please.
Lest I forget, is blogging worth the effort.? I maintain my personal blog in a sporadic fashion and wonder if anyone out there cares? Friends comment on mine. So do my family. Come on. Drop by and comment. Convince me blogging is a way to get name recognition and hopefully, sell my five books published by Cerridwen Press. Remember this. My historical romance, "A Very Difficult Man" is scheduled for release in paperback, October/November. Here is the cover.
Thanks for allowing me to rant. It was great fun. I await comments from the lovers of vampire novels. Convince me. What am I missing? I tried to read a vampire novel and quit. I like fantasy novels so I'm not a total loss.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Yesterday, I reached into the cutlery drawer in the kitchen for a spoon. That's when the fork attacked. It jabbed so hard into the top of the middle finger of my right hand,it hung on until I was able to shake it off! And it really hurt. It's a wonder you didn't hear me screeching all the way to Australia. Blood poured from the puncture wounds. I rushed to the bathroom to bathe the wound and stop the bleeding
You may laugh and think I am making this up. Inert objects can't attack. I know that is true. I am taking no more chances with killer forks. I have turned all the forks so their tines are facing down. My finger is recovering.
I'd love to know if anyone else has been set upon by a so-called inert object? Leave a comment. please.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Larceny by Ray Mizer. "I have been put upon by thieves! I have been swindled of a song!
Who stole the fairy from the glen? What huckster sold her gleaming wings? What rustler roped the unicorn, To make powder of his horn? Who trapped the trolls from out the fen? What miserable wretched spawn, Has poisoned every leprechaun? Who bludgeoned Ariel and Puck, And trampled Venus in the muck?
The fact is king, the lute lies low: I have been cheated of a dream."
Isn't that beautiful? We have lost so much in our gadget crazed world.
Roses. And this from a child, Jason Ducharme, age 6. "One day I woke up, And looked out of my window, And there were roses all around, Pink ones and red ones, I went out and feeled them and feeled them, And they were nice and soft, Like my sister's velvet dress, And they smelled like a birthday cake, And like I would be in the woods, When I am walking."
A dear friend of mine, Maurice, who was a long ago friend of the Dali Lama, gave me this poem. Anonymous, 15th century poet. "Thou shalt knew Him when He comes, Not by any din of drums, Not the vantage of His airs, Nor by anything He wears. Neither by His crown, Nor His gowns; For His presence known shall be, By the holy harmony, That His coming makes in thee."
ON LOOKING FOR MODELS by Alan Dugan
The trees in time have something else to do besides their treeing. What is it? I'm a starving to death man myself, and thirsty, thirsty by their fountains but I cannot drink their mud and sunlight to be whole. I do not understand these presences that drink for months in the dirt, eat light, and then fast dry in the cold. They stand it out somehow, and how, the Botanists will tell me. It is the "something else" that bothers me, so I often go back to the forests."
And last from a Calvin and Hobbes, cartoon, April 16, 1991. Calvin and Hobbes are standing on a sidewalk looking at the squares and Calvin says in the first panel. "Let's say life is this square of the sidewalk. We're born at this crack and we die at that crack." Next panel. "Now, we find ourselves somewhere inside the square, and in the process of walking out of it, suddenly we realize our time in here is fleeting." Next panel. "Is our experience here pointless? Does anything we say or do in here really matter? Have we done anything important? Have we been happy? Have we made the most of these precious few footsteps?" In the last panel, it's dark with a new moon in the night sky. Calvin and Hobbes are staring at the sidewalk.
I have saved these bits and pieces for years and years. I wanted to share my love of them with whoever reads my blog. They do not belong to me. They belong to the writers who penned them.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
THE CREATIVE MIND AT PLAY - copyright Anita Birt.
I printed the portrait of The Lady in a Blue Dress on my blog in late July. I spotted the picture in a magazine and was so entranced by the lady, I had to write about her. Following that, I asked for interested blog viewers to write a short paragraph, 250 words or less about her. A short scene to kick off a story. I have seven entries. All are fascinating and there is no way I can pick a winner. So – I will drop the names into a hat. The winner will receive a copy of my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man, when it is released in print this fall. Below is the lady herself and the entries. I have used initials for the writers. One is from a young man. NOTE: Three entries are from published authors..
Entries for: The Portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress. (Artist Konstantin Somov)
A safety pin. That was all she needed. The wedding was about to begin and her bridesmaid's dress was coming apart. She had hoped to read a little bit more of the romance novel she brought with her before the ceremony. Now she wouldn't be able to. She had to repair her dress. She looked at her book then at the lovely bride. If only she could find a love like her friend.
Love seemed to escape her. She had dated, but not one man had made her feel special. She wanted the fireworks to go off in her head, her heart and her body the way the romance novels talked about. Her friends said she was silly, that she should take what she could get and be happy. After all she was not getting any younger.
She stamped her foot, which was not easy in the awful heels the bride insisted they wear. Why did brides always make the bridesmaids wear such horrible dresses? She was wearing something right out of the regency novel she was reading. And she needed a safety pin.
She started for the bar. The bartender surely would have a stash of pins in his domain. She stepped from behind the bush only to find herself not in the posh hotel where the wedding was to take place, but in the hanging gardens the French court was famous for.
Somehow she had been transported to King Louie XIV's royal court!
My mother was 22 when she left her native
She never liked playing in the garden, but she did it anyway. She preferred to observe the town as it pulsed on the threshold of something beautiful. “Too many roses… not enough weeds,” she thought quietly. She always found the weeds so much more interesting. She had been hurt by roses before, pricked until she bled crimson. This was the escape she needed, he would be here soon. She felt a rush of heat; anticipation. She found a spot directly opposite a rose bush but seemed to take no notice of it at all, for her attention had already been caught by another gentle late summer breeze. There was something unique about this breeze, as it gently leafed through the pages of her journal, exposing her darkest secrets for the entire world to see. She felt alive, and naked, and she loved it. The air caressed her bare shoulder discreetly, a silent messenger, no words spoken… none needed. She closed her eyes to the world around her, drinking in each new sensation and surrendering herself to the moment, frozen in time. She felt as if she could touch everyone and everything at once. The garden seemed to heave beneath her, wrap her in a warm embrace. A hand cupped her chin delicately, gently, with a sense of familiarity that she had come to depend upon. “Open your eyes,” she thought, but dare she? This moment was too perfect.
She wore blue today, since it would be the last time. Tomorrow it would be back to black. For today’s occasion she decided to choose her prettiest dress, one that had been given to her to wear to bring out the sunshine. She chose the one with the prettiest lace, the nicest ruffles and the fullest skirt. Marianna Karpov was attending her husband’s funeral today. She didn’t much care how he had died - someone had told her it was from a fall at the home of a mistress – all that was on Marianna’s mind was that Viktor was gone. A brutish man since the day they met, and his temper only worsened with marriage. More affairs then she cared to count, outnumbered only by the bruises he had left on her fair skin. Marianna knew few people would mourn Viktor today, so she thought ‘why not?’.Today she was free. Today she was Marianna again. Today she was whole. Tomorrow she could be the poor widow, alone and pitied, but so long as she wore the blue dress today she was happy. Marianna watched from the hill as a few people trickled in. They were mostly men who had worked with her husband, or knew him from the pub. Some men had brought their wives, women who unbeknownst to the poor co workers, had intimate knowledge of the deceased. Marianna watched as the priest arrived and took his place on the grass. Viktor would have never approved, but with him gone, Marianna could finally restore her faith.
The story was nothing to speak of. It was in a tattered old leather bound book that she found in the library that afternoon, in a desperate attempt for something to read that would take her away from the business at hand. She had wandered into the garden to escape the crowd of guests, only to find that they had coincidentally followed her there. The book provided a ready excuse from their small talk, and she moved away as quickly as decorum would allow, finding a bench near the maze.
It was when the paper fell out from one of the pages that her concern for solitude was overwhelmed with curiosity. She hurried to pick it up, in case some sudden breeze took it away from her, and unfolded it. A letter! It was old and yellowing; she was surprised the pages of the book had not been damaged, for she could not find where it had fallen from. And it had been folded and unfolded several times to the point where it was almost tearing in half.
In an unassuming hand were written the opening two lines: “He’s dead. And my coat is ruined.” There followed an illegible section of the letter, where a piece had been torn away and could not be found anywhere – the top corner that would have included the address where it had been written and, possibly, a date. What on earth was this? As she scrambled to think of options, Jack came thundering around the corner and interrupted her.
It was a good thing mother was dead. If she could see her daughter now, trussed up in this corset with her goods displayed and face rouged, it would surely make her cry. But Aunt Josephine said it was necessary and father trusted his sister to know more about the raising and wedding of a girl child than he did. Swallowing hard, Millie reminded herself of her mother’s words and example in the matters of courtesy and patience. A gentle nature was soothing to one’s self and others, her mama used to say. But if her aunt introduced her to one more eligible
Lady Margaret, Countess of Derwent, stood at the top of the staircase, viewed the brightly lit ballroom below and waited for the buzz of conversation to cease. Heads turned as she knew they would. Dancers paused. Eyes gazed upward.
Margaret breathed deeply, raised her chin, nodded pleasantly at the crowd and slowly made her way down the staircase enjoying the moment. Her entrance, if not triumphant, had engaged the attention of the guests. They stepped aside politely as she passed by but no one greeted her. In the silence whispers floated towards her. Ignoring the muted voices, she reached Lady Clementine, Dowager Duchess of Seymour-Abbeyford sitting with a group of elderly ladies at the side of the ballroom.
"Your grace." Margaret bent her knee in a slight curtsy and raised her eyes. The duchess frowned and her rouged lips tightened.
"I did not expect you."
"Did I not respond to your kindly invitation?" Margaret suppressed a smile. The invitation had arrived late, deliberately so. "I do hope I am not unwelcome."
The duchess's thin lips cracked into a reluctant smile. "Of course, you are welcome." A flick of her fan and she turned to speak to a stout matron at her left.
"It has been a long time since we last met."
Margaret clutched the leather bound volume in her hand. Trapped by his voice, she slowly turned to face him. "A very long time, Lord Ashton. Please excuse me. I am greatly in need of fresh air."
(The winner in the lucky draw was Jacqueline Roth)
Thank all of you who entered.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I am shamelessly promoting my romantic suspense novel, TOO YOUNG TO DIE, published by Cerridwen Press. It has had four fabulous reviews and I shall quote from each one! Should you want to read the complete reviews you can find them on the review sites. So, here goes.
Manic Readers - featured review. "Oh my, talk about suspense and action all the way. TOO Y OUNG TO DIE is a roller coaster of adrenaline, bullets flying everywhere and a big strong gorgeous guy to protect you ... Anita Birt does a beautiful job in this action packed story as she keeps your heart running with Ellie wondering if her life will ever be back to normal. Reviewed by Lena
Simply Romance Reviews - "In TOO YOUNG TO DIE by Anita Birt, you get a superb book with a hook that grabs you from the first paragraph. Definitely a book you DO NOT WANT TO MISS. ... The twists and turns in this book kept me turning pages left and right well into the wee hours of the morning ... the characters have great personalities that radiate from them and I found myself rooting from to be safe, run fast and get the bad guys." Reviewed by Toni
The Romance Studio, overall rating Five Hearts. "Too Young to Die is a very good suspense romance to read. From the first pages of the book you are caught up in Ellie's liefe as it took an unexpected turn that she never saw coming. Taking care of her young charge, Niki became her number one priority, sometimes even above her own needs. Meeting up with Jack was a god send. Without his help, she and the baby, Niki, could have died ... he was her only hope to survive until the truth came out ... It made me stop and think what I would have done if I had been in her shoes." Reviewed by Margo Arthur
Romance Reviews Today "As Too Young To Die opens, Nanny Ellie Paxton is being held hostage in a remote area of the Cascade Mountains by an unknown group of men who threaten to kill her and the baby in her care. They are after the password for her employer's computer for some unexplained reason. When the men leave her alone for a moment, Ellie sees the chance to escape with little Niki. Her flight from the kidnappers lands her in the path of Jack Merano. Is he friend or foe? ... With this heart stopping opening, Too Young To Die, is a thrill a minute as Ellie and Jack embark on a race for their lives ... if you are looking for a thrilling suspense with a scorching romance, then you can't miss with TOO YOUNG TO DIE." Reviewed by Patti Fischer.
Please Note: All the material appearing on this site is copyright protected by Anita Birt, the review sites and the reviewers.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Llandrindod Wells, Wales. 1896
Isabelle’s brother tapped on her bedroom door the night before her fifteenth
birthday and, hushing her to be quiet, presented her with his gift. “I thought it best to give it to you now. If mother knows you are keeping a diary she will insist on reading
And so will Father, Isabelle thought.
In the morning she smoothed her hand over the maroon leather cover of the
precious diary, rested her cheek on it, breathed in the scent and slid her fingers along
the glossy gold-edged pages. She had never owned anything so beautiful and hesitated
before picking up her pen to write. It seemed a shame to sully the pages with her boring
thoughts but she had the diary and boring or not she’d start writing in it today.
Taking up her pen, she dipped it in the ink bottle on her desk, opened the diary and
signed her name. Isabelle Rachel Linden. June 21, 1896. Llandrindod Wells. The diary was for her eyes alone. In it she’d write her secret thoughts, special happenings and the dreams she dreamed.
She turned to the first page. Father has hinted he has plans for me. A chill shivered down her spine. She dreaded his lectures. Although she tried to be a dutiful daughter nothing pleased him. Her brother usually escaped his critical tongue because their father expected Evan to study medicine and work with him after graduation.
That was the plan. Their father didn’t know, but Evan had shared his secret with
Isabelle. He intended to study geology. Medicine didn’t interest him. Rocks and stones
“Come for dinner, Isabelle,” her mother called from downstairs.
Carefully blotting the ink she closed the diary, tucked it away on the top shelf of her
wardrobe and hurried to join her family at their midday meal in the gloomy dining
room. Its draperies were closed against the bright June sunshine lest it harm the
furniture. The silver tea service on the oak sideboard was wrapped in blue cloth to
prevent tarnish. The recently installed electric lighting was only switched on in the
evening after dark.
Given the choice Isabelle would never shut out the sunshine or the moonlight and
there would be smiles and laughter during meals.
She took her place at the table and bowed her head while her father mumbled a
prayer. They ate in silence. They always ate in silence unless her father chose to speak.
Isabelle tried to gauge his mood during the meal. No tight-lipped frowns. No lowering
of his brows. Like a wary sailor at sea she kept a weather eye out for signs of his usual
He carved a second thick slice of roast lamb for himself and laced it with generous
sprinklings of mint sauce. He had eaten the new potatoes and broad beans on his plate.
Handling his knife with surgical skill, he cut a small piece of meat, forked it into his
mouth and chewed slowly.
“I have an announcement to make,” he declared solemnly when he’d finished the
lamb. “Something to which I have given a great deal of thought.”
Isabelle, Evan and their mother waited. Interruptions were not allowed.
“I think she has had enough schooling, my dear.”
He addressed her mother, taking no notice of Isabelle although he was referring to
“She is an excellent student, writes extremely well and has a good head on her
shoulders. The patients like her when she occasionally assists me in the surgery. I have
even trusted her to mix some of the simpler medicines.” He sat back in his chair and loosened his waistcoat. He did not expect anyone to disagree with him. Isabelle wished her mother would, just once. She had never contradicted him in Isabelle’s hearing.
“I shall engage Mr. Petersham to tutor her in Latin and French, an hour or two a
day should suffice. I will train her as a nurse. There is no need for her to go away to one
of those nursing schools started by that Nightingale woman. No telling what kind of
people she might associate with. She will do better here with me. I expect to begin
treating patients coming to the spa within the next fortnight and I will supervise
Isabelle while she learns proper massage techniques.”
“That sounds very promising, my dear.” Isabelle’s mother nodded and helped
herself to more potatoes.
Frustrated and angry at not being consulted about plans for her future, Isabelle
wished she had her brother’s opportunities. Two years her senior, he was attending an
excellent grammar school and their father would send him to university in September.
Her mother rang the silver bell beside her plate and their maid hurried in to clear
the plates. On her return from the kitchen, Megan carried a steaming treacle pudding in
a wide shallow bowl and set the dish in front of Mrs. Linden.
“I’ll just fetch in the custard and tea, ma’am.”
“Thank you, this is Dr. Linden’s favorite sweet and you make excellent custard.”
Although Isabelle loved treacle pudding, she was too upset to eat and swallowed
some tea to wet her dry throat.
Disagreeing with her father was out of the question. Her parents never consulted her about anything. Her mother chose her clothing but allowed Isabelle to decide on the color of ribbons for her hair. For her birthday, she had received several and secured her long black hair at the nape with one of pale blue silk.
Her father rapped his fingers on the table. “Isabelle, you will commence working in
the surgery on the first of September. Your mother or Megan will braid your hair and
twist it up around your head. Like this.” He circled his hands on his bald pate.
“Father that is too old a style for me.”
He banged his fist on the dining table rattling the cups in their saucers. “You will
do as I say. When you are working in the surgery or at the spa, the patients will not
want your hair hanging over them.”
Isabelle stood and stamped her foot. “I will not work at the spa or the springs and
be looked down on by those English people. I heard several of them in church last
Sunday. They were laughing at our Welsh accents. They think we are country fools and
I won’t have it!”
Her mother clutched her throat and cast a pleading glance at her daughter. “You
must obey your father, Isabelle.”
“But you know how I hate having my hair in braids. I never liked it when I was
little. Please speak to Father.”
Shoulders sagging, her mother's face paled and she rose to her feet. “Your father
knows what is best for you. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll rest on my bed. One of my
headaches is coming on.”
He nodded and waved her off. “Sit down, Isabelle, while I finish my dinner.”
Hands clenched, anger twisting her stomach, Isabelle obeyed and watched her
father finish his pudding and drink two cups of tea. He pushed away from the table and
“Come to my study. I wish to speak with you.”
Evan stood and waited for their father to leave the room. “He’s really angry. Don’t
cross him, it will only make things worse.”
“It’s all right for you, you’re escaping to university in September and I’m to remain
at home and do as Father says.”
“Isabelle! At once, do you hear?”
She plucked up her courage and walked slowly to the study. Her father paced up
and down, hands behind his back. Isabelle sank into a chair, bowed her head and
waited. He stopped in front of her and dragged her up. His hands brushed against her
small breasts and he recoiled like someone touching a flame.
“Listen to me. There will be no further discussion. Your hair will be braided on top
of your head. You will assist me in the clinic at the spa. I am having two white uniforms
made up for you. I will allow you one free day a week. Sunday, of course, we do not
work.” He gripped her shoulders hard. “Is that clear?”
Fuming inside, Isabelle dared to meet his eyes. Dared to risk his anger. Knowing it
would infuriate him, she asked. “Which day, Father? Which day shall I have free?”
His face livid, he struggled for control and Isabelle had the satisfaction of making
him lose his temper again.
“I will tame that wild spirit of yours, my girl.” He paused, breathing hard. “Until
you learn better manners, there will be no days off.”
He struck her across the face and Isabelle stumbled away from his raised hand. “Go
to your room and have your mother come here at once.”
Isabelle paused at the door. Fearing for her mother’s safety, she hastened to
apologize. “It is not Mother’s fault, I am sorry for being rude. I will have my hair
arranged as you suggested and accept whatever punishment you think necessary.” She
hated groveling to him but had no choice otherwise he’d turn his fury on her mother.
He drew his brows together. “I accept your apology but do not make me lose my
temper again. I regret striking you.”
His voice softened. “You must learn more genteel manners. More accommodating
manners. It is not becoming for young ladies to speak their minds and disobey their
fathers. Your future husband will not tolerate the kind of behavior I have just
Isabelle could not imagine a husband much less one who resembled her bullying
father. Her hand on the doorknob, she faced him. “Shall I call Mother?”
“No, I will speak to her later.”
Isabelle prayed he would not put a stop to the last few weeks of freedom she’d
enjoy before starting work in September. Exploring the high moorland and hidden
valleys with Evan brightened her life. They’d pack bread and cheese and a bottle of
water in their school satchels and picnic along the way. One of their favorite walks took
them miles from town to a huge standing stone, a relic of some ancient time.
While Evan collected rock samples, she studied birds and noted everything down
in exercise books. Often they came across Owen, a weather-beaten old shepherd, black
and white border collies at his heels. An old-fashioned storyteller with the Welsh gift of
hwyl, he’d long been a favorite of theirs. He’d hunker down and entertain them with
long complex tales of life on the moors, storms he had witnessed and the times he
worked with the drovers taking sheep to market.
Isabelle always gave a wide berth around the peat bog where, according to the
shepherd, a man had lost his way on a dark night, stumbled into the muck and
disappeared deep down into its depths.
“When the moon is high,” Owen had told her and Evan, “the man’s ghostly spirit
wanders the moors crying out for help.”
If you'd like to read the whole chapter, go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com for my e-mail address. I'll be pleased to e-mail you the complete chapter. You will also find excerpts and reviews of all five books on the site. Thanks for dropping by.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The waitress frowned and peered over her glasses. “You’re mistaken, miss,” and turned to greet an elderly couple at the door. “There’s late you are. I’ve some fresh-baked currant scones to go with your coffee.”
The rooks scratched the ground searching for a few crumbs. Just like me, she thought, searching for clues and finding nothing. So how would a detective handle the problem? Begin at the beginning.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Her shoulders hunched against the storm, Catherine wiped her stinging eyes with a gloved hand. Gale force winds swept drenching rain through the bare branched trees bordering the drive to Glenmore Manor. Why had no one met her at Abbeyleigh station as promised? She hadn’t mistaken the day. Her duties were to commence on March first. Lady Glenmore’s letter had confirmed the arrangements.
She was too fatigued to climb the wall again and return to the road. The village,
three miles distant, might as well be thirty or three hundred—there’d be no shelter this
late in the day and no London train until morning.
Her mother had begged her not to accept employment as a companion. “You’ll be
spurned by society, gossiped about at parties. You’ve been out for a year and you’ll not
find eligible gentlemen in a country parish. I don’t know what’s to become of you.”
A sudden gust snatched Catherine’s bonnet and hurled it into a puddle. She
swooped down, grabbed the bonnet and battled the weather to save it from total ruin.
The pretty violet posy she’d pinned under the brim before leaving London flew across
the grassy park and disappeared into a rising mist.
Huddled into her sodden coat she trudged on. Freed from the bonnet her tangled
wet hair dripped chilly water down her neck. Wretchedly unhappy she peered ahead
into the gathering gloom. Distant lights flickered in the manor windows.
A hound bayed in the distance, joined by another close by. Terrified they might
attack she picked up her feet and ran, praying the storm would throw them off the
Close to collapse, gasping for breath she stumbled up the stone steps to the manor
and pulled the bell. Within minutes a liveried footman opened the door. Nose
twitching, lips pursed, he studied her.
The last of Catherine’s strength gave way and she burst into tears. “I’m Catherine
Thurston, engaged as a companion by Lady Glenmore. No one met me at the station.
The manor gates are locked. I had to climb the wall to get in. I’m wet and cold and I
want to go home.”
“Oh dear, oh dear. What is this?” A white-haired elderly gentleman with sparkling
blue eyes peeked around the vestibule door.
“The young lady says she is Miss Catherine Thurston.”
Stepping around the footman, the gentleman approached Catherine. “Are you
really Miss Thurston?”
Too shivery to speak, Catherine nodded. Tears and dribbles of rain trickled down
“My goodness child you are dreadfully wet. Come inside at once. We must dry you
Shaking with cold Catherine followed her savior across a huge entry hall. Ahead
was a magnificent staircase sweeping up to the second floor. Scarcely conscious of her
surroundings she faltered and almost fell.
“Oh dear, oh dear, let me take your arm. You are in a bad way.”
He tugged her into a brightly lit room its walls lined with book-laden shelves. A fire
blazed in the hearth. Flickering sparks whirled up the chimney. Seated in a chair close
by the fire a lady worked at her embroidery. Startled by Catherine’s sudden
appearance, she removed her spectacles and leaned forward to study the intruder. Her
beautifully coifed hair gleamed red gold in the firelight.
“Who is the young lady, Edward?”
“You’ll never guess, Marie Claire. This poor child was left out in the rain. Just look
at her. She’ll catch her death of cold if we don’t dry her off and find some warm
Catherine peeled off her wet gloves, dropped a small curtsy and offered her hand to
the lady. “I am Miss Thurston. No one met me at the station. I left my trunk at the
Goods Office and walked here.”
Eyes blurry with tears, her gaze drawn to the crackling fire and its life-giving heat,
Catherine edged closer to the hearth.
“Miss Thurston, your hand is icy cold. Edward, please ring for the housekeeper.”
The lady stood and helped Catherine out of her coat. “My dear girl, you are almost
soaked through to the skin. Warm yourself by the fire lest you catch a chill. I am Lady
Glenmore. It seems there’s been an unfortunate mistake. Did you not receive my letter
canceling the arrangements?”
Canceling the arrangements. Catherine sank to her knees on the rug in front of the
fire and held out her hands. Chilled to the bone, her teeth chattering, she shivered
uncontrollably. Surely she’d not heard rightly. Lady Glenmore had confirmed the
arrangements. The Glenmore solicitor had assured her all was well.
Catherine struggled to speak. “I have your letter in my reticule. I am engaged for
three months as a companion to a young person injured in a riding accident. You’ve
kindly paid my wages. The arrangements are very clear. I don’t understand what has
happened. Are my services not required?”
Her mouth dried. She had read Lady Glenmore’s letter offering her employment
twice on the train journey from London. It spelled out her duties very clearly.
“I am very sorry, Miss Thurston.”
Catherine’s thoughts spun dizzily around the dreadful words. Canceling the
How could it be?
The room faded into strange darkness.
She tried to rouse herself. “But…”
“The poor child has fainted.”
Fainted? She had never…
If you would like to read the first chapter, please let me know and I'll send it to you. Check my web site, www.anitabirt.com for my e-mail address.
Thanks for dropping by.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
"When Ellie Paxton accepted the position of Nanny with Computer Skills to care for three month old, Nicki Blesnicoff she cheerfully moved to her employer's mansion located deep in the Cascade Mountains in
What she hadn't factored into her new job were threats of rape, torture and death by armed thugs who invaded the mansion during the absence of Nicki's parents. A city girl not given to feats of derring-do, Ellie wrapped Nicki in a soft blanket and escaped with him into a dense, terrifying forest. At midnight.
As dawn light filtered through the trees, Jack Merano and his two tracking dogs found Ellie huddling with the baby. A nanny and a baby. What could be more innocently appealing? Rescuing her and the bay from the dangerous forest was the easy part but soon enough Jack learned there was a price on Ellie's head and a master criminal stalking her."
I have had a great review from Manic Readers for my book. Here is a quote. "Oh my, talk about suspense and action all the way. TOO YOUNG TO DIE is a roller coaster of adrenaline, bullets flying everywhere and a big strong gorgeous guy to protect you ... Anita Birt does a beautiful job in this action packed story as she keeps your heart running with Ellie wondering if if her life will ever be back to normal. Great book and can't wait for more from this talented author."
Whew, what more can I say. Thanks so much for coming by. If you want to learn more about me and my books, check my web site www.anitabirt.com. Too Young To Die is my fifth book with Cerridwen Press.Anita
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
That phrase doesn't make sense. Your dialogue should be tighter. Your hero sounds like a wimp in that bedroom scene. If your heroine is a virgin how come she knows the right moves to turn him on? She's shaking her bootie like an old pro.
Okay, here's what to do with the phantom who really is your conscience into which you have stored a lifetime of good and bad messages from authority figures, Moms, Dads, Sisters, Brothers, Teachers, etc.
I came across this wonderful little essay by Mark Twain. "Your conscience is a nuisance. A conscience is like a child. If you pet it and play with it and let it have everything that it wants, it becomes spoiled and intrudes on all your amusements and most of your griefs. Treat your conscience as you would anything else. When it is rebelious, spank it - be severe with it. argue with it, prevent it from coming to play with you at all hours and you will secure a good conscience; that is to say, a properly trained one. A spoiled one simply destroys all the pleasure in life. I think I have reduced mine to order. At least, I haven't heard from it for some time. Perhaps I have kill it from over-severity."
So threaten the phantom editor. If she wants to play, she has to play nice and offer positive comments to enhance your writing. If she sneaks in a negative comment, ask her what she hopes to achieve by it? Make it positive! Negative messages are bad for the soul, they are especially bad for writers who work alone. Negative messages have a purpose. Take them, turn them around, find out what the phantom editor wants from you. If it's to make your writing better, have her turn the negative to a positive.
That's my big speech for to-day. I studied Neuro-linguistic programming to the Master Practioner level. It's important in everyone's life to consider where the negative message is coming from and its purpose. I think the phantom editor wants the best for you and me. She has to learn how to pose her comments so you and I can hear them and learn.
Must run along. We are taking friends out to dinner and I have to paint myself up and dress in something other than the jeans skirt and knit top I've been wearing all day. If you have time have a look at: www.mycharacters.blogspot.com and read my interview with Alan Tremaine, the hero in my time travel romance, Ring Around The Moon.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I have closed both contests because they have run their course. For the contest asking what you would choose to do if you were in the same situation as my heroine in, Too Young To Die. I studied every comment and they were all excellent except for the last one from Meggie. Meggie is a friend, cute as a bug, smart as a whip with a wicked sense of humour. She said she'd join up with the bad guys and go. I will e-mail her in London, England.
I had a tie to win my book between Jean Hart Stewart and Dierdre Durance. So I wrote each name on a piece of paper, folded the paper, closed my eyes and tossed the two folded papers on the floor. I picked one up with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes and the winner is, Jean Hart Stewart. Congratulations, Jean. I will send you my book when it's released in June.
Next Contest: I had written down #8 and whoever landed on that number would win my book. Only had seven entries! What to do. Wrote each of your names on bits of paper, folded them and dropped them in an empty basket. I shook them up and the winner is: Amarinda Jones.
Whew. Thanks to all of you who entered. It was fun.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
I have written down a number and the first person to reach that number wins. Below is the excerpt where you will find the answer to my question.
"Misery dogged her footsteps. Her feet hurt. Her legs ached. Being scared out of her wits didn’t help. For Nicki’s sake she had to keep going. Had to reach safety.
She plodded on. What time was it? How long had she been walking? Had she made a mistake leaving the house? Maybe she could’ve bargained with the man in black, given him access to the computer in exchange for her freedom.
She shook her head. Not in a pig’s eye, her mother would have said. Why a pig’s eye? Ellie wasn’t sure and shifted the baby from one arm to the other to ease her tense shoulders.
Do pigs know who to trust and who not to? She puzzled over that. Miss Piggy might know. Don’t trust the boss man.
“What do you think, Nicki?” He slept peacefully in her arms. Every step wearied her. Her legs had taken on a life of their own. If she got out of the forest alive and in one piece would her legs know how to quit?
She stopped for a few minutes to catch her breath, glanced around and suddenly realized she could see. A faint pink glow filtered through the leaves overhead.
“Nicki, honey, I think it’s getting light.”
When had they left the house? Midnight?
Her spirits lifted. People lived and worked in the Cascades. Maybe she’d find a logging camp or a house with helpful people who’d phone the police.
She longed to rest. Longed to put Nicki down safely. Longed to sleep.
She plodded on. One foot followed the other. Don’t stop. Keep moving. The forest had to end somewhere.
“Oh no!” She choked on the words.
Two large dogs bounded towards her. Hackles raised they approached stealthily. She huddled Nicki in her arms and buried her face in his blanket. “They’ve sent tracking dogs. We haven’t a hope in hell of getting away. I did my best, sweetie.”
The dogs circled, closed in and sniffed at her and the baby. “Don’t bite,” she pleaded.
Torn to pieces by dogs or shot quickly? She’d choose the gun. Quick and easy if they aimed at her heart or blasted a hole in her head.
As for Nicki. Please God don’t let Nicki die because I failed him.
At the sound of a loud whistle the dogs stiffened. A man emerged from the trees, a threatening rifle slung over his shoulder. The dogs left Ellie and stationed themselves beside the man, their eyes remained fixed on her.
The man walked up to her, frowning. “In the name of all the saints and the Pope himself, what are you doing here with a baby?”
Ellie backed away and bumped into a tree. “Don’t kill Nicki. He’s only three months old. He’s innocent. He doesn’t deserve to die.”
Nerves strung to the breaking point she sank down on her knees. Eyes blurry with tears she gazed up at the man.
“Give me a few minutes to pray then shoot me. Promise not to kill the baby.”
He knelt beside her. “I don’t kill babies and women.” He pulled a red and white polka dotted hanky from his jeans pocket and handed it to her. “Dry your eyes and tell me what you’re doing here. This is private land. No trespassing. Didn’t you see the signs?”
Crackling laughter erupted from Ellie’s dry throat. “No trespassing.” She rocked back and forth. “No trespassing. That’s very funny.”
She couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t stop laughing. She’d been through too much. He’d caught her trespassing. Where was she? Would he shoot her for trespassing? She clamped her lips together choking back the laughter.
The man slapped her sharply on the side of her face. “Stop it, you damned fool. You’re scaring the baby.”
She jerked sideways and punched his arm. “What do you think you’re doing?” The hysteria died.
“Stopped you screaming, didn’t I?” He smiled showing even white teeth. Even in the early morning light he was better looking than George and the man in black.
Intelligent eyes. No boxing scars. Probably an expert tracker.
“So what’s next?” Too tired to think clearly Ellie waited for the end. He said he didn’t kill babies and women that’s so she’d calm down and make an easy target. A sitting duck and a duckling.
It wouldn’t hurt much. A single shot would do the trick. “Kill me and get it over with.”
“Stop babbling about killing. Got that? Explain what you’re doing on Vinnie’s land.”
Ellie shook her head. If he wasn’t one of them she was safe. But was she? Whoever raided the Blesnicoff’s home would be searching for her and the baby. She’d witnessed the carnage, could identify two of the men.
Sucking in a deep breath, her brain spun out of its death spiral and emerged intact with an alibi. No way would she tell him her name. He might hand her over. She used his hanky to wipe her sweaty, teary face and plucked a name from the past—her high school English teacher.
“I’m Sarah Hargreave. I’ve run away from my husband.” She raised her head. “He threatened me and the baby.”
The man’s gray eyes darkened. “Did you spend the night in the forest?”
Ellie nodded. “I had to or he’d have found us.”
“Then you’re damned lucky. There’s a cougar lurking in the neighborhood. It killed and mauled some range cattle. Good job it didn’t find you.”
A stalking cougar was too much for Ellie. “We could’ve died,” she wailed and sagged against him.
“But you didn’t.” Grasping her hands he stood and helped her up. “You’re worn out. I’ll take you to my cabin. You can rest there.”
“Is it far?” She’d walked all night. Her nerves were frazzled. The soles of her feet burned. Her ankle throbbed. If he said a mile she’d never make it.
“I’ve got a vehicle.”
Ellie almost kissed him. “Show me.”
For now she had to trust him."
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