Friday, March 28, 2008

Iona, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Tintagel and Shapwick, Magical Places

I've been busy all week writing about Magical Places for the paranormal_workshop group. The places are magical to me and may be to some of you who have visited the Holy Isle, Iona, on the west coast of Scotland. It's history as a Christian community stretches back to approximately 560 AD when an Irish monk, Colum Cille arrived with a group of monks to found a monastery and spread Christianity to the heathen Scots but they had to rid the island of sun worshipers, Druids and the like. Colum Cille became Saint Columba and his work flourished. After his death the Vikings raided the island, murdering and pillaging but eventually the island became peaceful and once again, a small monastery flourished and grew. In the fifteenth century a group of Augustinian nuns found a nunnery on the island. The ruins are there. A wonderfully peaceful place to sit and think.

Google, Iona and after you've visited the great abbey click on Nunnery. A neat piece of software will take you over the ruin. Stop at a wall for a few minutes. I sat there on a summery day on our last visit. Magical.

My imaginary journey turned south to Wessex, the ancient kingdom. My first stop was at Stonehenge. Always a breathtaking moment. In his book, Stonehenge decoded Gerald S. Hawkins, writes. "In all the world there is nothing quite like the gaunt ruin which Henry James said 'stands as lonely in history as it does on the great plain.' Immense and still, it seems beyond man, beyond mortality." As I stood gazing at that gaunt ruin I could sense its strength. Stonehenge is surely a man-made miracle. Legends and myths surround it but it wasn't the wave of Merlin's hand that built the monument it was the vision of the men who studied the heavens and precisely designed the gigantic stones in a great circle. For worship? Sacrifice? For divining the right time to sow? The right time to mow? To announce an eclipse? The silent builders left no written record only their monument for posterity to wander at.

We journeyed to Glastonbury and it's magnificent ruin and the stories of King Arthur linked to the site. He and his queen are allegedly buried there. Once upon a time Glastonbury Abbey was one of the richest abbey's in the kingdom but it suffered the fate of all abbeys and convents when Henry VIII wanted a divorce to marry a new love and the Pope would not grand his wish. So Henry, (how pleasant to be a powerful, popular king) cut his kingdom adrift from Rome and made himself head of the church in England. He dissolved the abbeys and in kingly fashion, stole (gathered?) the abbeys treasure and made it his own. One after the other the abbeys collapsed. Only ruins remain to remind us of the magnificent buildings and to remember the thousands of worshipers who prayed there. Their spirits linger if we take time to stop and listen.

I think I'll leave stop my journey before embarking on a trip to Tintagel and Shapwick where six ley lines intersect. Those mysterious ley lines fascinated me when I heard about them but I'll write about them another day if readers of my blog are interested.

This is my PR time to promote my books, all published in e-book format by Cerridwen Press. To read excerpts, drop by my web site,


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Idling through Memory Lane with recipes

After a frantic search for my sister's recipe for chocolate cake I found it tucked in one of my recipe note books and I made the cake. It is delicious. As I flipped pages, picked up loose recipes showering down on the floor I almost lost heart but soldiered on until Edna's recipe turned up. It's on a 5x3 card, covered in ancient chocolate stains but readable.

I found recipes with names and dates on them. The past lives on. "Goulash Soup from my daughter-in-law, Alana, Cold Lake, Alberta. 1987, Chicken Huntingdon, Bonnie Bean, Toronto, November 1987, Baked Chicken with Mustard, Mary Gray, Victoria, 1990. Potatoes Romanoff from my cousin Gladys, who has since died of breast cancer. Welsh Cakes, Joan Moody, Victoria,1989. Oven BBQ'd Chicken, Chris Morton, Toronto, 1985, died of breast cancer. Baked Herbed Chicken, Helen Goodchild, July, 200. Balsamic Vinaigrette, my daughter, Lesley, March 1998. And many more.

My ancient copy of The Joy of Cooking is bound together with tape. The pages most used, once upon a time, are splattered with this and that - the recipes are for cakes and cookies much loved by our two children. I refer to The Joy often. Not for cakes and cookies but for its classic recipes. And what does this have to do with writing and me as an author intent on selling my books? Nothing really. I was enchanted with coming across so many old friends and remember with an aching sadness those who are no longer here. Thanks for the recipes, Gladys, Chris and Lesley.

I'm posting the cover for my next release, Ring Around The Moon. Order it from Cerridwen Press on April 8. It's a time travel with a difference. Visit my web site for information about my other books from Cerridwen Press. A Very Difficult Man, Isabelle's Diary and Isabelle's Story.

P.S. If you want my sister's chocolate cake recipe, leave a comment on my blog and you shall have it


Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Ides of March

"Beware the ides of March," so spoke the soothsayer to Caesar. March 15 and I am reminded of the warning given Caesar. Nothing would do but I find my complete works of Shakespeare and begin reading Will's play, Julius Caesar. As I read it the cadence of the words acted on my copy-cat brain and I spoke inside my head in the manner of Shakespeare. "You have much to do, Anita, much to do and you must not tarry over wordy pages lest you fall behind in your designated tasks."
But in my poorly contrived sentence I cannot begin to emulate Will Shakespeare's brilliance. His memorable dialogue stops me in my tracks. The speech by Marcellus in the first scene as he speaks about Pompey and berates the citizens who want to honour Caesar. I have to bite my tongue and stop my fingers. I want to copy the whole speech. But I'll sneak in a tiny bit from the speech. "Many a time and oft, Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements, To tow'rs and windows, yea to chimney-tops, Your infants in your arms, and there have sat the livelong day, with patient expetation, To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome..." Part of Shakepeare's brilliance was the way he set up his plays. Like willing slaves we are hooked and follow whereof he leads.

"Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war." So spoke Mark Anthony. So many brilliant speeches and so much to relish as I read the play. "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar not to praise him..." The words roll like warm honey off my tongue. Yes, I do read them aloud

I must cease and desist blogging but not without drawing your attention to my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. He'd been wounded on the battlefield during the Crimean War and returned home to England a bitter and disillusioned man. He could not forgive the generals whose stupidity had sent hundreds of men to their deaths when the Light Brigade was ordered to attack the Russian guns. During the ensuing slaughter my fictional hero, Richard, Lord Glenmore, himself badly wounded, dragged a young trooper to safety before collapsing from loss of blood. My book has had excellent reviews. Read an excerpt on my web site.

I hope I have amused you just a little. Enjoy the week-end and for the Irish among you, Happy St. Patrick's Day, on Monday, March 17th.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Time out for Sex

Did you know that "a new study pegs the ideal duration for intercourse at seven to thirteen minutes. But sex therapists say couples should keep the stopwatch out of the bedroom." A report, titled SEXY TIME by Hayley Mick appeared in The Globe and Mail on March 6th. Of course I read every word and am dumbfounded how U.S. sex therapists came up with their ideal duration for intercourse.

My mind boggles as I try to imagine how the above information was gathered. Could you? Could I? Could anyone perform while watched by a sex therapist with a stop watch. If you long to read the whole article try www.The Globe and If that fails use your imagination. It's amazing the number of sex and behavioural therapists who spend their time counting intercourse minutes.

As for me and my fictional characters I don't hang around long enough to time their moments of bliss. And that reminds me. I have a fascinating time travel romance, Ring Around The Moon, releasing on April 8. The lovers love and have a wonderful time in bed. I'll post an excerpt another day. Right now I have to do the mundane tasks necessary to stay alive and well with a functioning brain. Early dinner for my husband and me. We're playing bridge tonight with chocolates to nibble on while dummy.

I'm posting my time travel cover. My story is set in magical Cornwall where anything can happen and often does. See you another time. Drop by my web site: and check out my other books. A Very Difficult Man, Isabelle's Diary and Isabelle's Story.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

St. David's Day

This is St. David's Day. He is Patron Saint of Wales and there is the gorgeous Welsh flag. Unfortunately you can't see the white edges to view it in its magnificence. The red dragon on green and white. I have the flag on our front doorstep.

And to add to this day celebrating Wales, I am displaying the covers of my two books, Isabelle's Diary and Isabelle's Story. Both stories are set in and around the mid-Wales town, Llandrindod Wells - the old spa town. The countryside is rugged. Hills, valleys and wild moors. Great for hill walking but avoid the peat bogs. I accidentally stepped in one and my boots were covered in oily black peaty water. Not nice. The Spa was famous in the latter part of the nineteenth century and wealthy people flocked there to take the healing waters. However, sea bathing became the next big thing, and the spa at Llandrindod Wells lost its allure.

Wales is not as well know as England, Scotland or Ireland where they extol their history, their virtues and their rugby teams. Wales produces fine writers, think of Dylan Thomas, and actors, Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins and rugby players. As for singers! Listen to a Welsh male voice choir singing, "There'll be a welcome in the hillsides, There'll be a welcome in the dales ... and then the line, "When you come home again to Wales." And my heart swells and my tears fall and I blubber.

Why choose Llandrindod Wells to set my Isabelle stories? My husband and I were on a walking holiday in mid-Wales and stopped in a cafe in the town for a coffee. I saw a girl dressed in black sitting at window table drinking a Coke and waiting for someone. But I imagined something different. The girl I imagined was dressed in somber Victorian black and wept over the pages of a diary. And that's how I came up with Isabelle's Diary and followed it with Isabelle's Story. My books are published by Cerridwen Press. Check my website for excerpts from the Isabelle books and from my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man.

A Welsh friend came by with Welsh cakes. Yummy. I wish I could share. I'll think of you as I eat them. One after the other!

Enjoy the day and think, Wales!