Raising a reader is a Canada wide call to encourage literacy. It's a challenge for all parents to read to their children, to purchase books if they can, and if they can't, there are school and municipal libraries to fill the gap. I was born lucky. My family loved books and our house had shelves of books devoted to knowledge. And because this is my blog, I can quote bits and pieces from old favourites: the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, Now We Are Six by A.A.Milne, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.
Where to begin? I shall start with a few lines from The Old Sailor (A.A.Milne) "There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew, Who had so many things which he wanted to do, That, whenever he thought it was time to begin, He couldn't because of the state he was in." (Look it up!) Milne's poems are filled with humour and are a wonderful commentary on the human condition. So often I have so much to do, I truly don't know where to begin!
There's a thread of sadness through, King John's Christmas, (Milne again) but it all comes right at the end. Here are the first four lines. "King John was not a good man, He had his little ways, And sometimes no one spoke to him, For days and days and days." My brother memorized the whole poem and insisted on reciting it to his family every Christmas.
One of my favourite, Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling) is The Elephant's Child. Jack Nickelson (yes,That Award Winning Jack Nickelson) taped the story. Voice only. I don't know where the tape can be found now, but Jack might know. It is beautifully read. The story begins: "In the High and Far-Off times, the Elephant, O Best Beloved had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it." And Kipling spins a wonderful tale of how the Elephant got its trunk. The words spill like honey off my tongue as I read the story aloud.
Another little piece, this from A Child's Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas) This story cries out to be read aloud. A line or two from the second verse so Dylan Thomas in his magical spinning of words. "All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street;and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow..."
I have quoted from Alice's discussion with Humpty Dumpty in a previous blog. Check it out if you are interested. Raise A Reader by reading and sharing the stories with children, your own, your nieces, nephews, young cousins, kids dragged in from the street, your cat and dog and please yourself by listening to the magic wrought by writers. There are thousands of wonderful books for children in libraries. Raise your readers to love reading and you will have prepared them to be a life long book lovers.
Drop by my web site to see what I do. I write. Romance
Friday, February 22, 2008
Curses while I tear my hair. I blogged yesterday, such a brilliant blog, and it's not here! Where did it go? I had a lovely time with Alice in Through the Looking Glass and her chat with Humpty Dumpty about the meaning of words - unbirthdays and neckties on an egg. Sigh. And it's gone forever. So I will put up the covers of my books and do a little PR to encourage you, dear readers, to rush to Cerridwen Press and order them. Here they are. A Very Difficult Man is a historical romance, England 1855.
Isabelle's Diary is a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist and Isabelle's Story, 1900, is a historical romance, the story of the girl who wrote the diary. My Isabelle stories are set in and around Llandrindod Wells, the old Spa town, Wales.
I blogged on www.goddessesofstorytelling.blogspot.com to-day. Have you ever heard of the word "disremember?" Roger Clements used it when questioned about using performance enhancing drugs. It was new to me but there are hundreds of words in my Oxford Dictionary with the prefix "dis." Seems you can attach it to almost anything to make a point.
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
And as Humpty Dumpty wisely remarked about words. "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty "Which is to be master - that's all."
I love reading Alice inWonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass. When I was a little kid I'd press my nose against a mirror to see if I could step through into Wonderland. Never made it.
Drop by my web site and read excerpts and reviews of my books. www.anitabirt.com
Posted by Anita Birt at 3:52 PM
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"Speak to me of love and tell me those words that I long to hear ..." This is a very old love song. My mother used to sing it so I learned all the words listening to her. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and there are red boxes shaped like hearts in the shops. Valentine cards are everywhere. It's a deluge of hearts and flowers. Red roses are at a premium and have gone up in price. That's okay. The growers work hard to bring the roses to us. Did you know that a lot of roses come from Kenya? Imagine flying flowers around the world and have them arrive looking good. If I flew around the world I'd be drooping and losing my petals.
Poem time: Robert Burns. "A Red, Red Rose." O my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie, that's sweetly play'd in tune! (He promises to love her until the seas run dry) The last verse.
"And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile."
My Scottish heroine in my historical romance (in revision and untitled) sings this song sadly and tears fill my eyes as I listen to her voice inside my head. She's remembering her mother and her father. They lost everything during the highland clearances. Orphaned and alone, she has to make her way in the world. But ...
Because I love his poetry I'm adding a bit of Dylan Thomas. Not a love song but who cares. His language is so wonderful. Here's the first verse of Fern Hill.
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs,
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb.
Golden days in the heydays of his eyes.
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns.
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves,
Trail with daisies and barley,
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
Do you have a favorite poem or love song that moves you? I'd enjoy hearing from you.
Posted by Anita Birt at 11:47 AM
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I've posted the covers of my books for you to linger on before reading the clip from a news story. It has nothing to do with romance and love but it shows the stupidity of a jerk who thinks a woman's breasts are playthings for a stranger to maul. Read on.
"Student gets 2 months for kissing woman's breast." The headline of a newspaper story from St. John's, Newfoundland.
An Iranian man studying in Newfoundland has been sentenced to two months in jail for kissing a woman on her breast while the two were sharing an elevator..." His excuse. "Mr. Azarsina said he didn't realize the seriousness of the offence in this country. "You can't expect all males to control themselves when the breasts are out," he said. I doubt if the girl's breasts were "out." Showing a little decolletage is fine in our country but in Iran? The religious police would have hustled her off to jail to undergo - who knows what.
Having got rid of my irritation at the jerk I am now feeling peaceful. There was a picture of Ewan McGregor in one of our papers accompanying an article about him promoting a movie he has made with Woody Allen. McGregor's smile is "vulpine" according to the woman journalist. I tend to agree. His smile is dazzlingly friendly yet there's something else there. A "come into my parlor" invitation. Foxy. He's Scottish with an accent. Can't get enough of those Scots.
And that leads me to a historical romance I'm revising. It's 1820. My Scottish heroine, Ailsa MacDonald and her father are brutally driven from their highland home during the Clearances. Falsely accused of stealing sheep, they escape over the border into England and make their way south far from the long arm of the Scottish authorities. Ailsa's father has a dream of reaching Bristol and taking ship to Canada but ... they never make it to Bristol and my story begins in Wales near the town of Usk.
If any of you know Usk, leave a comment. Roman legions camped there two thousand years ago so the area is a treasure trove of Roman ruins.
Posted by Anita Birt at 2:07 PM
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Children and adults alike enjoy listening to stories. Writing a story means cutting out background information about the characters so as not to distract the reader from the immediate tale. So to-day I'm going to tell you a story about Catherine Thurston, the heroine in A Very Difficult Man. She didn't walk off the street and into her very first job. A lot had happened to Catherine and her family before she answered the advertisement in The Times for a companion.
Her father, George Thurston, was a successful business man. Her mother, the daughter of an earl had married "beneath herself" but the marriage was happy. They had two children a son and daughter. They lived on a large estate near Dorchester and kept a town house in London. Catherine and her brother learned to ride early in their lives and gave lessons to visiting children. It was a life of privilege, taken for granted because that's the way it had always been from the time they were born. On one of their rides around the estate they found a gypsy girl netting trout from the estate pond. The girl, Riena, begged them not to report her instead she led them to the gypsy camp where Catherine and her brother received gifts from Riena's father. Finely carved thin discs of wood etched with mysterious symbols and each had a tiny hole through which he had drawn a leather thong. They were good luck charms meant to wear around the neck.
But luck eluded the family when Catherine was seventeen and her father's health teetered in the balance. A brain tumor probably but at the time it was undiagnosed. He became fractious and angry. He spent days and nights in the gambling hells in London and lost the family fortune
before he died.
The family estate was leased. The stable of fine horses sold. Catherine's brother left for America and Catherine and her mother moved into the London house accompanied by two elderly servants who insisted on staying with them. There would be no "coming out" for Catherine. No balls at Almack's. No parties to meet eligible young men and no dowry to capture their interest.
Lady Thurston, Catherine's mother knew nothing of keeping accounts and paying tradesmen. Afraid to pass by their shops lest she be hailed and handed an account and desperate to retire their debts Catherine answered an advertisement in The Times. Here's the advertisement. Dated February 1855.
"Young lady to live in a country house for three months as companion to an invalid recovering from injuries sustained in a fall from a horse. The young lady must have a pleasing personality and a well-modulated speaking voice. She will read aloud from newspapers, periodicals and selected books. At times, she may be asked to discuss current events. Excellent wages. Impeccable references required. Duties to commence March First. Write to E. Percival Knightley, Solicitor, Grey's Inn, London."
Against her mother's wishes, Catherine accepted the offer. The country house was a two hour train journey from London to Abbeyleigh. When no one met her at the Abbeyleigh station as promised, Catherine walked three miles to the Glenmore estate only to find the great wrought iron gates locked and a storm brewing. And that's when A Very Difficult Man begins.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Catherine before the story began. Let me know.
Posted by Anita Birt at 2:26 PM
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Now is the time to put up the covers of two of my books, not yet released, but I'm starting the PR ball rolling now.
RING AROUND THE MOON is a time travel romance set in Cornwall, England. It's a magical place where almost anything can happen. Beth Ormond rented Quest Cottage for a month of rest and relaxation to get away from the hassles back home in Portland, Oregon. Within minutes of her midnight arrival a tall dark stranger emerged from a nearby stand of trees and called out to her.
"Elizabeth." Alan Tremaine had time traveled from eighteen hundred to claim Beth as his wife. Ring Around The Moon will be released on March 27, 2008.
TOO YOUNG TO DIE: When Ellie Paxton was hired as a nanny to care for a three month old baby boy and moved into his parents' home in the Cascade Mountains, she imagined herself like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. But instead of singing to the hills, Ellie had a gun pointed at her head by thugs who had invaded the house and was threatened with a slow and unpleasant death if she tried to escape. Too Young To Die, no release date as yet. Watch for it.
Posted by Anita Birt at 11:20 AM