Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE and a promotion.

For Life in the Slow Lane followers - E-readers are becoming BIG business, The Sony, The Kindle and The Nook. This is great news for me. My five books published by Cerridwen Press are all available in e-format and ready for downloading to E-readers or directly to your computer or iphone.

An opportunity for me and other Cerridwen authors to attract you to our books. In the spirit of hope, here are the covers of my five books. To read excerpts of all my books go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com You will find ordering information on the site or go directly to: www.jasmine-jade.com or www.cerridwenpress.com

Save the trees, read e-books.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


For a change of pace and to bring some excitement into my blog I'm posting below the first page and half of my romantic suspense novel, TOO YOUNG TO DIE. If you want to read more, leave a comment and I'll add a few more pages hoping you will be hooked and will order my book. It has had excellent reviews. Check my web site, www.anitabirt.com for an excerpt and excerpts of my five books e-published by Cerridwen Press.

(Information on this blog is copyright by Anita Birt and cannot be used without permission of the author)


Chapter One (partial)

"Keep singing, lady."
The armed man sitting across from Ellie in the nursery casually pointed his assault rifle at her. She cuddled the whimpering baby and tried, unsuccessfully, to stay cool and remember the words of the old nursery rhyme.
"Rock-a-Bye baby, on the..."
Her voice cracked on the first line.
"Can't sing. Can't breathe. Throat's too dry. Can I get a drink of water from the bathroom?"
He shambled to his feet. "Don't move. I don't hurt ladies and babies."
"Then what the hell are you doing here?" Ellie shifted Nicki from one arm to the other and gulped air into her oxygen-deprived lungs.
"Don't give me that crap. You're up to your neck in this same as the rest." He slung the weapon under his arm. "Sing to the kid while I get you a drink."
"I can't."
"Do it and keep the kid quiet." He lowered his brows. His eyes sank into folds of scar tissue. "Sing about the mocking bird. You sang it before."
Ellie cleared her tense throat. "Hush little baby, don't say a word...that one?"
He nodded and propped his beefy shoulder against the door. "My old lady used to sing it to my little sister."
The gorilla had a human mother. Hard to believe he hadn't come fully formed from the lab of a mad scientist.
"Please get me some water. I'll sing it and a couple more."
If she escaped from the house alive, she'd never answer another advertisement for a nanny. Magda and Stefan Blesnicoff had seemed such a nice couple. They'd sent their chauffeur to drive her from Seattle to their estate in the Cascades. She'd been with them a week and tonight she might die, blown away in a hail of bullets.
She choked back a sob. She was too young to die. So was Nicki. He squirmed and screwed up his face. "It's all right, Sweetie." She fought back her panic. Stay calm. Stick to a routine. She held him against her shoulder and patted his back. "You're hungry aren't you?"

Want more. Please leave a comment. It's painless.


Saturday, December 5, 2009


I am so sad. No one comments on my brilliant blogs and I am trying hard to lure you in. Where are you? Having got that off my chest and taking a deep breath I have decided to please myself and if you care to join in and comment, be my guest.

Yesterday, the back page of the front section of The Globe and Mail featured an advertisement for the "iPhone 3G." The head line read: "16 new ways to make life a little easier." Each new way was listed down the sides of the iphone 3G with lines leading to each icon on the phone. "Wine Ph.D" "Local Concerts" "ESPN sore Center" "Epicurious." This one is Free. " Can't decide on dinner? Get Epicurious recipes right now on your iPhone..." And on they go. And to tempt you further to buy the phone. "...there are over 90,000 apps for just about anything, only on the iPhone." My head hurts thinking about 90,000 apps.

As I studied the advertisement I wondered about choices and how 16 new choices made life easier. New gadget after new gadget appears in the market distracting everyone from paying attention to being alive. When did iPhones and Blackberries and the like swamp the senses of the users so they have no time to turn off the gadgets, step outside the door, breathe the air and look around.

Human bodies need exercise if they are to remain healthy. People need people. We need others to pay attention to us - not via the gadgets or the Internet but in person, in real time.

An iPhone 3G can't give me a hug nor can a Blackberry cheer me if I'm sad or laugh with me over the antics of squirrels cavorting on a tree or take time to listen to the birds or studying shiny new cars in a showroom.

Choices. How do I choose to live my life? How do you? Would 16 new choices make you feel better? Comment if you dare.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Seems to me that Life In The Slow Lane does not live up to its name. I try to slow down but something comes along that sets me thinking and off I go on a tangent to see what's going on. I won't touch the Tiger Woods debacle, that's for the gossip columnists (I read every word in The Globe and Mail to-day! How could I resist? It is too delicious)

I got thinking about phobias after meeting a new acquaintance who has a phobia about elevators. She cannot step into an elevator on her own. Another person has to be with her. It's the fear of the elevator getting stuck and feeling trapped.

As for me, my phobia is earth worms! I cannot touch a worm or a snake. Goes back to when I was a little girl and a nasty boy dropped a big fat dew worm down my neck. I don't remember the incident, my mother told me. When my daughter was thirteen she was out playing in a field and brought home a garter snake in a glass jar. I locked myself in the bathroom and threatened to do her grievous harm if she did not get rid of the damned snake.

Another friend is afraid of open water. She has never learned to swim. Won't even try. The idea terrifies her.

Then there are SPIDERS. Big, hairy ones, little ones, nasty ones that bite. A common phobia. Arachnophobia (I had to look it up in my Oxford dictionary)

Are women more prone to phobias than men? Who would like to weigh in on this topic? How about a bridge phobia? I mean the structure not the game! I know of someone who simply cannot drive across a bridge.

All this has nothing to do with LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE but it may arouse some interest.

I think I tempted you (whoever you are) with an offer back on my first LITSL No one replied so I try again. The second person who comments on this blog, December 3, 2009, to you I will send a copy of my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE - continued, I hope

Sas to say, my last brilliant post did not appear on my blog. There must have been a gremlin hanging around that day determined to do me in, so to speak

I waxed eloquently about my travel to Britain during late August and early September, 1944. With several other Canadian war brides we were allowed to travel to the UK because the war in the Atlantic was winding down. However, no one had informed a German U-boat commander of that fact and I nearly ended up in a watery grave off the north coast of Ireland when the convoy was attacked at dawn. Five ships were torpedoed, including the one directly aft of the Ariguani, the small ship on which I was a passenger.

But that was then and this is now. Have any of you a childhood tale to tell? A magical moment you remember as if it was yesterday. Or do you have a rant or a strong opinion about what is happening in Canada or the wide world.

Because many of us are in our eighties and lived through the "dirty thirties" - a depression like no other - and lived through World War II and the Korean War, we tend to gaze with jaundiced eyes at the fuss entrancing Ottawa about the treatment of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan. The jails in that medieval country are not pleasant. I'm not sure where captured insurgents are to go or how to monitor their day to day treatment in primitive prisons while our soldiers are fighting a bloody war. Let the Afghans care for the prisoners. Enough said. That is my little rant for to-day.

A scam warning. A friend of mine in her eighties had a phone call two days ago from a man who told my friend her son had been jailed and needed money to bribe the guards to free him. Her son and his wife happened to be travelling in a far eastern country so my friend was terrified something bad had happened to him. The caller suggested she send $4600, cash, to a lawyer in Montreal who would take care of the problem. That didn't make sense to my friend. Cash? She hung up the phone. However, she was so shaken she couldn't eat for two days. Not nice.

And to jog your memories about what I do, I'm putting up the covers of my "Isabelle" books. Not to weary you with a sales pitch, you can read excerpts of both books at: www.anitabirt.com Leave comment below so I'll know someone out there is reading my blog or I might cast a spell!


Thursday, November 12, 2009


To all of you folks over sixty, come on over and share some of your life experiences. For the oldest among you, what was it like growing up during the depression years? We lived in a small town close to Lake Ontario. Those were the days when men criss-crossed Canada seeking work. Because our rented house (not many ordinary people owned houses back then) was situated by a fairly busy highway, tramps would come knocking on our kitchen door seeking handouts.

They never asked for money. "Missus, could you spare a bit of tea. I have some milk?" One asked my mother. Others would have tea and milk and asked for some bread and butter/ My mother was sure there was a hidden mark on our back door because we were the only house on the street to attract the tramps.

They were not tramps, really. They were men desperately in search of work not sitting on street corners begging for coins.

I was fortunate most of the time as I grew up. My father was employed and my family was considered "well off," until I was thirteen years old and my father foolishly lost his job. My world turned upside down. After high school my hopes to attend university fell by the wayside and I took a business course. My first job, as a stenographer with Canadian General Electric paid me $15.00 a week! That was above the minimum wage. The minimum wage in 1939 for females was $12.50 a week.

Forget the depression, have you a childhood memory to share? Happy. Sad. Devilish fun. My brother, Harry and I, got into some scrapes and lived to tell the tale.

Check my website for information about my published books and how to purchase them. That's my sales pitch for to-day.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cape Dorset Stone cut print

When I moved from my large home to a small apartment I did not have room for all the art work I brought with me. One item of interest is a Cape Dorset Stone Cut for which I do not have all space. The print is called:

Kikgavik and The Hunter. The artist is Kiakshuk. I purchased the print in Calgary, Alberta in 1962. My print is 46/50. Three years ago one of the prints sold for close to $4000.00 US.

If anyone is interested in seeing my print, please check my web site, www.anitabirt.com for information about me, my writing, excerpts from my books, the covers and how to reach me if you are interested in seeing a photo of the print.

Having said all that. Back to my WIP. I am preparing a short gothic story for an anthology sponsored by Gothicwriters, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. My story is called The Listeners. It takes place in the present time in Cornwall, England. Cornwall is awash in stories, ghostly and real.

My American heroine, Julia Denning, traveled to England expecting to attend a conference on the experience of time slowing. What happens to her is the stuff of nightmares or dreams - take your pick.

And just to keep my books on your mind, I'm posting the cover of my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. It's available as an e-book and in trade paperback. The print version is available at Amazon.com and the e-book and print version can be ordered from www.Jasmine-Jade.com

Thanks for visiting


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Where do your ideas come from? Authors are asked this question many times. Here is what started a new story inside my head.

Years ago, my husband and I were on a hiking holiday in mid-Wales and stopped for a morning coffee in a small cafe on the main street of Llandrindod Wells. I noticed a young woman sitting alone at a window table. She was dressed in black. She was drinking a Coke and kept glancing out the window as if waiting for a friend.

Immediately a story came to me. My heroine is sitting in the cafe having a morning coffee and notices a young woman dressed in Victorian black sitting alone at a window table. She is turning the pages of a diary and weeping over it.

That is how I began writing Isabelle's Diary and followed it with Isabelle's Story. To read excerpts of both books, go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com

Ordering information for my books is on my web site.

The books are available in e-format and soon, I hope, will be available in trade paper back.

If you want to know what inspired me to write, A Very Difficult Man, please leave a comment below and I shall write about it on my blog.

Thanks for dropping by.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pay Attention - second time around

Yesterday I tried to download the covers of my five books with Cerridwen Press. For reasons known only to the gods of the blog world, I could not show you all of them. Never quit is my motto so I shall try again to-day.

And there they are! A Very Difficult Man is a historical romance set in 1854 England. My hero has returned from the Crimean War, wounded in body and soul and has become a recluse in his family mansion. My heroine, has been hired as a companion, by his mother, Lady Glenmore, to see if she can bring her son out of his self-imposed exile. He does not want the companion foisted on him by his family and does his best to get rid of her. Conflict from the get-go.

Isabelle's Diary is a contemporary romance that takes place in Llandrindod Wells, Wales. There's a ghost - but is there? Trying to find the mysterious young woman who appeared to my heroine is difficult. My heroine asks for help from a handsome Welsh professor. A romance to warm your heart.

Isabelle's Story, is the story of the girl you wrote the diary between 1895 - 1900. A historical romance that almost didn't happen when she became pregnant and her domineering father threw her out of the house. Thinking her lover had abandoned her, Isabelle walked into the hills behind the town hoping to die - but. Who came along just in time to save her? An old shepherd would not leave her and carried her to his cottage to heal. Wonderful story and a romance.

Please go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com for excerpts from my books and how to order. Try Amazon.com to start! I'd enjoy hearing from you at: anita.birt@gmail.com

Thanks for dropping by,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pay Attention

My sales are sagging. I need, want and must have sales to make me feel good about writing. So. I am posting the covers of my five books with Cerridwen Press. After viewing them, click on my web site: www.anitabirt.com and read excerpts and order one or two or three books. Make my day and afternoon and evening. Here are my five covers.

Well a nasty little computer gremlin has stopped me from downloading my other three covers.

Too Young To Die is a romantic suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat until you finish the last page.

Ring Around The Moon is a time travel. Alan Tremaine travels from two hundred years in the past to the present time. The story takes place in magical Cornwall. Check it out.

Thanks for your interest. I'd enjoy hearing from you. Try me at: anita.birt@gmail.com

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I have a small file of stories told to me by friends. It's such a lovely sunny day here in Victoria I feel like sharing the stories and may the sun shine on you wherever you are.

A friend of the family had her 94 year old fathe living with her. He was a lively old gentleman. A visitor came to tea one day. The old gentleman did not join them. The visitor had occasion to use the bathroom and was alarmed to note the lock on the door was the old fashioned kind that worked like a dead bolt. There door could not be opened from the outside.

"Mary," her friend asked when she came out, "aren't you afraid your father might fall in the bathroom or have a stroke and with the door locked you couldn't help him without breaking down the door?"

"Why, I never gave it a thought," Mary replied, " but I'll mention it to Dad when he comes down from the roof. He's up there fixing the chimney where a brick came loose in that high wind a couple of nights ago."

A Cat Story told to me. A friend of their's had a white Persian cat, a gold fish and dark blue carpetting in the living and dining rooms. She was called away on family business and her husband first of all let the cat eat the goldfish! He was tired cleaning cat hairs from the rug and decided to dye the cat blue, which he did!

This solved the white hair problem but when it came time for the man's wife to return he had to do two things. Replce the fish and dye the cat white.

Aa soon as his wife returned and walked into the living room she noticed the fish had shrunk in size and was now quite small. The cat strolled in and its fur was a strange dirty white colour.

Some explaining had to be done! The cat suffered no ill effects from its double dye job and the fish, was a fish, and did grow. The husband bought his wife tickets for the opera to soothe her feelings and promised to go with her.

A ew years ago my husband and I met a couple at a friend's home and quite liked them. They were older than us and very interesteing. I phoned to ask them for dinner and the wife answered. "Sorry, we can't come. George left me to-day."

Never at a loss for words, I asked what had happened.

"He has gone to live with his new woman friend in England." George was close to 80. They'd been married 42 years when he dropped the bomb.

Another couple story. A friend told me this story. She was invited to a big 50th wedding anniversary celebration. She went up to the woman and said. "I do hope you have many more years together." She was surprised at the reply. "Oh, there won't be more years together. I'm leaving him tomorrow."

There are millions of stories in the world, I've told you a few of them. Will you share a story or two with me? I'll credit you with them. Drop by my web site. www.anitabirt.com to read excerpts of my books and view the covers.

Anita Birt
(All the material on this blog is protected by copyright and may not be used without permission of the author)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in my previous life in Toronto, I trained as a human relations counsellor. I wasn't the published author you know me now. In the midst of downsizing from a large home to a small apartment I have come across long hidden files about my early work.

QUESTIONS. Why do we ask them? I offer a good rule of thumb to anyone interested. Before you ask a question, know what you are going to do with the answer.

I'm thinking of the opening line in one of my, as yet unpublished manuscripts.

"You will, of course, accept."

Right of the blue her boss has asked her to marry him! What a question. He expects her to say "yes."

Does she? Not a chance. She has questions of her own. Why her? Why not one of his society friends? Why?

His is a Command question and when she refuses he uses a little emotional blackmail to force her hand. Ah yes. What fun to write a romance where power resides in the hero's hands. Will this be a win/win? A win/lose? A lose/lose?

In the meantime, have you purchased any of my books from Cerridwen Press? That's a leading question. You don't have to answer unless you have purchased one of my books. My historical romance, AVERY DIFFICULT MAN, is available in trade paper back. Check my website for ordering information and information about my five books published by Cerridwen Press. Read Excerpts. Reviews. View the Covers.

Thanks for coming by.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Rejections are the spice of life for authors. They keep us from giving up unless ... I shall share my rejection story because it still warms my heart. Years ago my family visited and we embarked on a driving holiday down the west coast. On returning to my home, three rejections awaited me. I was devastated and ready to throw in the towel, never to write another word or send out another query letter or manuscript.

My granddaughter, Taylor, said nothing but when I went into my bedroom later in the day, she had pinned a note on my pillow. Here is what she wrote. She was nine or ten years old then.

Dear Grandma: I'm, very sorry you got rejected. I know how it feels. I got rejectedf from the co-ed basketball team even though I'm very good and so are you! So you got rejected a couple of times, big deal! Even the best seller writers got rejected at least 100 times. If you really don't think you are good at romance then try something else! I am very proud that my Grandma's an author! Remember in my fables, t he story, Dreamers? Well the moral is follow your dreams no matter what anyone says.If your dream is writing then so be it! Never ever, ever let me hear you say, give up! So keep your chin up and keep on WRITING!

Love you forever, Taylor

I continued writing and have had five romance novels published by Cerriwden Press. The first one published was a historical romance, A VERY DIFFICULT MAN.

Check out my web site: www.anitabirt.com for information about all my books. View the covers and excerpts.

Thanks for coming by,


Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to the Present

I have changed my mind about gathering stories from people who have lived through wars and terrorist attacks. I shall go back to my writing roots to discover why I am here and why I continue to write.

Marketing my books is of prime importance. My five books with Cerridwen Press have been out for over a year so they are old in terms of marketability. However, they are in e-books format and will be available for years to come. They are all relevant!

My historical romance, A VERY DIFFICULT MAN is available in trade paper back from Jasmine Jade Enterprises. com. My book has had great reviews.

I have moved and my writing life has been on hold for awhile. Soon my muse will be sitting on my shoulder with an opening line, such as. "Of course, you will accept." That is how my Bargain Priced Bride starts. Soon it will be edited by me and sent out into the world seeking a publisher.

Here's something for you to try. Start with the line, "Of course, you will accept." How would you continue? What do you think is behind that question? I'd love to hear from you. Send me your next line to, anita.birt@gmail.com

Thanks for coming by.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tales from The Past - Ancient Warriors.

That title isn't "sexy" enough to lure in bloggers. It could mean almost anything. So - if you are an ancient person with your wits still intact, I'd like to hear from you. We all have stories to tell and I'm afraid they will be lost unless we write them down or tell them to someone who will write them down.

I am willing to take on the task of putting them up on my blog.

Ancient warriors. Women of distinction, the women who stayed home when their "warriors" went off to serve in World War II, or other nasty dust-ups around the globe.

Where were you the day President Kennedy was shot?

Do you remember the beginning of World War II?

For Americans. Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked? What were you doing?

That's a start.

Send your stories to me at: anita.birt@gmail.com. I will acknowledge every story and let you know when I post it on my blog.

Check me out at: www.anitabirt.com

Thanks for coming by.


Tales from The Past

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tales from The Past

As I age and speak to men and women who have lived long and interesting lives, it occurred to me that their stories should be saved. Written down. Who among my blog readers lived before 1920? I'm making that the cut off date for Tales from the Past.

Have you memories to share with others who might not have experienced the life you lived? For instance, did you live during prohibition when booze was in great demand on both sides of the Canadian and United States borders? I'd like to hear from you. I have to start Tales from The Past somewhere so let's begin.

Please send me your stories and we'll jump start this blog with your tales. Short is better than long but if your story is very, very interesting, I'll edit it and post it on the blog. If Tales from The Past, proves captivating and readers want more, we might have a book! Whoever sends in a story will be credited as the author.

I await to hear from you. I love stories. I am sad to think of so much history being lost if the stories are not captured and made available to future generations. History is not about dates and what famous personages did this or that. History is stories about real people living real lives.

My idea about prohibition stories is one idea. What tales do you have to tale about the "roaring twenties" or the market collapse in the late 1920's or surviving the thirties during the depression years?

I'm Anita Birt. I have five romance novels published by Cerridwen Press. I am remembering the past. What do you remember?

For more information about me, check my web site: www.anitabirt.com

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lost and Found

Lost - I have been out of touch for day and days. Went on a seven day cruise with my friend, Solveig Mclaren. Returned home. Sold my home. Downsized and moved into a small apartment. I had too much house. Too much garden. I dreaded the winter with the possibility of a snowfall or ice on the driveway with no one to clean it up.

On the cruise, Solveig and I plotted a murder mystery on a cruise ship. We knew how and why the murderer killed his victim but the big question - How to dispose of the body when cruise ships have surveillence (SP?) cameras everywhere. I asked the captain what is the procedure when a passenger goes missing? He was terrific and gave me details. They run through a whole check list and if the passenger is not found they inform the FBI or the RCMP, depending in which jurisdiction they are located.

Our story features three somewhat elderly sisters ( thing of Miss Marple) Solveig and I are planning a series. Await more details as our plot thickens.

In the meantime, if you really love a good romantic suspense, download TOO YOUNG TO DIE - my book published by Cerridwen Press. Read it on your computer, iphone, Blackberry or other hand held device. Check my web site, www.anitabirt.com for ordering information and an excerpt. Here's the cover.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Interesting life.

Mine, that is. If my life gets any more interesting and challenging I shall go on a holiday - which I am. Have a look at my romantic suspense novel, TOO YOUNG TO DIE. Perfect reading on your iphone, Blackberry, Kindle or other hand held reader.

Go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com for an excerpt and while you're there have a look at my other books. They've had great reviews.

TOO YOUNG TO DIE will keep you on the edge of your seat until you read the last page. Enjoy. I'm off for some R&R.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog ...

That is the question - I have family visiting. I am selling my home. I shall be moving in a few months. I want to sell my books! And so we come to this.

My Isabelle books. Available in e-format from Cerridwen Press.

ISABELLE'S DIARY (present time) has a ghost. A new branch on the family tree. A search for answers. A love story to warm your heart. "Can a ghost appear in broad daylight? In a cafe in the Welsh town Llandrindod Wells?"

ISABELLE'S STORY (1899-1900)
Is the story of the girl who wrote the diary. Pregnant, she believes her lover has abandoned her. Disowned by her family she makes her way to the hills above Llandrindod Wells determined to end her life. What happens next?

My book, A VERY DIFFICULT MAN, is available in trade paper back as well as e-format from Cerridwen Press or order from Amazon.com or from your favourite book store in the United States. Sadly, it's not available in Canadian book stores. (Complicated story)

For the first five readers who go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com and leave their names and addresses, I will send the trailer for my book, A VERY DIFFICULT MAN. You can read excerpts of all my books on the site. Thanks for visiting my blog.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

All you need to know about sex ...continued

Canoes are a Canadian thing. Making love in a canoe is not for the faint-hearted nor anyone with a weak back. American readers may not be familiar with Canadian geography, specifically, Newfoundland and its people. Check it out on a map. My father was born in British Harbour, Newfoundland and I have many relatives in St. John's. It's a wonderful place to visit and the people are welcoming. *

Just so you'll know. A dory is a small flat bottomed skiff used by fisherman.

Newfoundlandlers have a highly developed sense of humour. When the discussion arose about who is a "real Canadian," the following story appeared in the Letters column in one of our national newspapers. It is allegedly true.

A Newfoundland politician was visiting his constituents and dropped in at a senior's care home. After chatting with various old folks, he turned to the oldest resident, a bright eyed lady.

"You are in remarkable health," he said. "Have you ever been bed ridden?"

"Oh, thousands of times, " she said, "and twice in a dory."

So ends the discussion about who is and who is not a real Canadian.

*When the trade centre towers in New York were attacked on September 2001, all civilian aircraft were diverted to Canadian airports and many landed in Gander Airport, Newfoundland. In the space of hours, the local people opened their homes to the stranded travellers where they could rest and be fed. It was a bit like "the loaves and the fishes" parable in the Bible. A small community rallied to care for thousands of strangers. That is real Newfoundland hospitality.

Visit this ruggedly beautiful island and enjoy meeting its people.

Anita Birt

Visit my web site to read excerpts of my five books published by Cerridwen Press. View the trailer for my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. It's also on YouTube and my Facebook page.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meeting and Greeting

A little something different on my blog to-day. I have a guest. Please greet Delilah Marvelle. I am impressed by her dedication to her career as an author. Read on to learn how she plans her writing hours and where she gets her inspirations.

I'm asking the Questions.

Q. How long have you been writing fiction? Did you write stories when you were a child?

I have been writing stories ever since I was about nine. They started off as snippets of fairy tales I created and snowballed into bigger and bigger stories as I experienced the good and bad in life and read more.

Q. Do you write with music playing in the background or in a quiet room?

I would say my writing habits are very odd. I not only have to have quiet, I can't have ANYONE in the house. I feel like their energy and their vibes are interfering with the world I'm trying to create, that, and the fact that when I write, I actually verbalize what I write. So if anyone was around, they would hear me interacting with my characters in a fake British accent (since my stories take place in London, England 1830)

Q. Who is your writing day like?

Summers are different from the rest of the year because my children have the summer off. So during the summer, I get up early (about 4-5 a.m.) and write until they kids get up, which is about 8-9 a.m. I don't feel the same about my writing during the summer as I do during the fall, winter and spring. Mostly because there are people around me and so I feel as if I'm not really entering the world I need to enter into. During the rest of the year I write from 4-6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sometimes in the evening. I don't answer phones, or do e-mail or anything that interrupts my writing. I don't even eat or go to the bathroom, LOL. I just write. It always takes an hour or two before I get warmed up at the computer, which is another reason why I don't let anything interrupt me. My writing time is short.

Q. Where do you get your story ideas? An overheard fragment of conversation? A scene on the street? A memory?

Because I write historical romance, most of my ideas are based from history itself. I own a lot of research books, out of print and first edition books that I read whenever I can and that inspire me to find glimmers of inspiration.

Q. Do you plot your books or do you get an idea and start writing to see where the story takes you?

I am definitely a panster. Meaning, I write by the seat of my pants. If I plot the story out too much, then I get bored of it and feel like there's no point in writing a story I already know everything about. I like to be surprised by my own characters, and therefore can predict how my own readers will react. I always start with a premise and the hero and heroine, then let everything fall into place. To me, they're like people. You can't get to know them until you spend a lot of time with them. And not time plotting, but writing.

Q. How do you feel when you finish a book and have to say good-bye to your characters?

Finishing a book is divine. Saying good-bye to my characters not so divine. I think that's why I love writing series. Because I don't have to say good-bye to those characters. I can visit with them whenever I want to. And it really adds depth to the other books because I know the characters so well.

Q. What can you tell me about your book to be released in August?

LORD OF PLEASURE is book 2 in the School of Gallantry Series. The School of Gallantry is a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction. The headmistress is an elderly retired courtesan who uses her experience to educate men on what she feels they lack. It's very funny and VERY hot. Almost bordering on erotic. Because you can't very well touch on a subject about teaching men and love and seduction without fully opening the doors.
What I love most about this series is because they all take place at the same exact time, you can read them in any order and not feel confused or lost. Which was always my frustration when reading series. Feeling like I was missing out because I picked up the wrong book. LORD OF PLEASURE is about Lord Hawksford. He was brought up in a very usual household in which his parents were prim and proper before the ton during the day and played Adam and Eve at night. His upbringing makes him very playful and sexually aware, but when his father dies, leaving him with five overzealous sisters and a not so proper mother, he finds himself torn between what society expects him to be and what he wants to be. How does Lord Hawksford, being so experienced and all, get involved in the School of Gallantry? Read the book and find out. Wink.

Lord of Pleasure will be released in early August 2009
Delilah is published by Kensington Publishing. To find out more about Delilah, go to her web site: www.DelilahMarvelle.com

Thanks for taking time to answer my questions, Delilah. I enjoyed meeting you and your heroes in The School of Gallantry.

Anita Birt

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All you need to know about sex and . . .

Have I got your attention? Good. There has been much discussion in the past few weeks about what it means to be a "real" Canadian. I was born and raised in Canada and feel very real. However, one of Canada's famous historical writers (now deceased) Pierre Berton, commented that a real Canadian should be able to make love in a canoe.

I have paddled canoes. Portaged canoes. Tipped out of canoes and never, ever thought of making love in a canoe. Canoes are remarkably unstable even in calm water. If you shift position too quickly you will end up in the water.

Make love in a canoe. First of all, lay a couple of sleeping bags on the bottom to cover the ribs. If you have a rib-less canoe, all the better. You, the male, are the stern paddler because you know how to do the J stroke. The J stroke is not for sex! It's to keep the canoe on course!

Let's assume the woman is already naked and lying on the sleeping bags. If you're going to make love in a canoe, it's best to be naked to start with. Undressing in a canoe is fraught with danger, you may tip the canoe as you wriggle out of your clothes and end up in the water.

So, let's call them Jake and Jill. Jake is ready. Jill is willing. Jake has to slide the paddle into the canoe. In doing so the canoe wobbles then rights itself. Jake gets on his knees and inches towards Jill. Oh, this is wonderful. He reaches her, inches between her legs and ...

Their lovemaking is vigorous and their orgasms are wild. Unrepeatable unfortunately because the canoe tips them into the water. They come up laughing but not for long. They are way out in the middle of the lake, it's late at night, and the canoe is drifting away.

Does Jake know how to right a canoe? Is he a REAL Canadian? Is Jill? Jake and Jill hang on to the canoe and eventually get it upright. Climb into a canoe? I shall leave the lovers to figure that out. It ain't easy.

Real Canadians carry Canadian passports! That's real enough for me.

Have a look at my web site, www.anitabirt.com and read excerpts of my books.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

What's it all about Alfie?

Remember the film? Alfie was such a rogue, breaking hearts and walking away as if a broken heart was of no account. The film, as I recall, was about the meaning of life - not the Monty Python version.

My husband, born and raised in Wales, was fond of quoting a poem written by William Henry Davies, a Welsh poet. The words speak to me of life and living and as a writer I sometimes forget to remember the richness of life.

"What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows;

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass;

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance;

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Do you have a poem or a piece of writing that speaks to you in a particular way? I am going to walk along the path by the sea this afternoon to view the scene, smell the sea and sit on a bench in the sun and reflect on my life.


Friday, July 3, 2009


I am asking all Goddesses and readers of this blog if you have a daily newspaper delivered to your home? I am deeply concerned at the numbers of important newspapers crashing in the United States. Seattle has lost its daily paper. To me, it will be a sad day to see the demise of newspapers.

I am a newspaper junkie! I get three daily news papers every day except Sunday when I only get one. Without a newspaper I don't know how anyone follows world events in depth. The snappy little clips on television only skip the stories.

I enjoy reading the columnists. The editorial content is slightly different in Canada's two national newspaper. The Globe and Mail tends to be liberal in its focus. The National Post is slightly more right wing. During Federal elections they have reporters travelling with the parties and candidates, makes for interesting reading. The third paper I receive is The Times Colonist, published in Victoria. It reflects the happenings on Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia.

Yes, I find time to write. Without my daily newspaper fix I'd feel lost. Even when Bill and I travelled abroad, I picked up English language papers. Never any news about Canada except for the hockey scores during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Have you seen the trailer for my book? It's on YouTube and my Facebook page.

I hope you have time to comment about news papers. I fear for our democratic way of life if we lose these important bearers of information.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer solstice

To celebrate the longest day of the year I shall post the covers of my five books published by Cerridwen Press. Don't they look splendid? A Very Difficult Man is now available in trade paperback. I also have a fabulous trailer that gives an overview of my book without giving away the plot.

I am revising a historical romance. The plot thread is the stranger at the gate. My heroine escapes from her highland home during the Clearances and flees over the border into England with a warrant on her head for stealing sheep. Not your average Regency! Quite the opposite. Orphaned and penniless how can she survive? I will keep you informed as my story progresses.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Life in the slow lane

"Summertime and the livin' is easy, Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high..."

What to do when the muse takes a holiday and leaves me drifting along in the slow lane? I have stories to revise - four of them. I have a new story underway and a 10,000 word gothic story to finish. Enough work to keep a busy writer busy, busy, busy. Yes. Yes. Yes.

So ... I shall do some PR for my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. There's the wonderful cover. I have a trailer available to whet the appetite of eager readers. View the trailer by going to, www.YouTube.com, type my name, Anita Birt, in "search" and my trailer is there for easy viewing. It's also on my Facebook page.

Make my day. View the trailer. Comment on my blog.


Saturday, June 13, 2009


"All the atoms we are made of are forged from hydrogen in stars that died and exploded before our solar system formed. So if you are romantic you can say we are literally "stardust." If you are less romantic you can say we're the nuclear waste from the fuel that makes the stars shine." Quote by Sir Martin Rees. British Astronomer Royal.

Here are my five book covers. Each has a sprinkle of stardust. Oh help, I think a virus has crept into my computer. All kinds of things are going wrong. I will try and upload the covers one more time before I quit.

I feel like tossing the damned computer out the window. Boo Hoo. I did want to post those covers so badly.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Very Difficult Man

My contemporary romance, Dickens and Me, has come to an end. I finished the last chapter last Friday. I hope, you who have read it, have enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed creating my book and sharing it with you.

My BIG news is about the video featuring my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. It's available for view on my Facebook page. It was created by Trailer To The Stars and is really special. It gives an introduction to my story without giving away the plot. Please have a look. It's also available at: www.YouTube.com
Print my name in "search" and you'll find my video. My hero is dark and dangerous to my heroine.

I've been so busy posting chapters of Dickens and Me, each Friday, I haven't been posting anything else. I'm BACK! Next post will be about "Making a Scene."


Friday, June 5, 2009

Dickens and Me (The end!)

(Copyright 2009, Anita Birt)
Greg reached out to touch her but she jerked away.
"Don't touch me." She gritted her teeth. "My mother had sweated blood to keep me in school. I couldn't let her or myself down by dropping out. I struggled through my first year at university. I couldn't hide my condition from my professors. While some of the students avoided me, the professors didn't blink as long as I kept up my grades. I took a week off to have the baby."
"What happened to it? Was it a boy or a girl?"
"I don't know. I didn't want to know. If I'd known the sex I'd have imagined what he or she looked like. I could not live with that. Giving my baby away broke my heart. The social worker at the hospital arranged for the adoption."
"Didn't you see the baby?"
Caroline shook her head. "I knew if I held the baby I could not give it up. Better to make a clean break and get on with my life."
Greg paced over to the window, rested his forehead briefly on the glass before returning to her. "How did you get through this on your own?"
"By trying not to think about it. By studying. I had a couple of sessions with a therapist but she wasn't much help. She couldn't make the pain go away. I got married during my second year. It lasted six months. End of story."
"Our child is thirteen years old and we don't know whether it's a boy or girl. I feel as if I've lost a part of me."
Caroline's anger flared. "Don't criticize me for not asking the sex. Until you know what it's like to get pregnant and have no one to turn to, you're a bystander."
She choked back tears. "The hardest part of my job is dealing with pregnant teenagers. I've been there. Unless they have a supportive family or a loving boyfriend prepared to take responsibility for the child, I want the girls to carry their babies to term and agree to adoption."
Exhausted, wishing he'd go away, she sank down on the sofa and stared at the floor. Greg pushed the table aside and sat beside her.
"I don't know why my father forced those decisions on you. It wasn't my doing. I would have come home."
"That's hard to believe."
"The child was mine as much as yours."
"It was more mine than yours. I was carrying it. You didn't have a worry in the world."
She tried to sweep away the cobwebs lurking in the dark corners of her mind. Shedding light on the past, on Greg, would take too much energy. He'd made his point. She had to believe him but it was hard to change direction. To feel differently about him. To feel differently about herself.
Her nerves in shreds, her energy at a low ebb, she rubbed the back of her neck. "I'm very tired. You'd better go."
"I'm not going anywhere until I'm sure you believe me."
"It's too late for that."
"You're asking me to walk out and act as if nothing happened between us. Sorry, Caroline, I'm staying."
Caroline blinked back the tears threatening to fall. Tears for eighteen year old Kate Southern forced to make a fateful decision on her own. Greg had planted the seed and walked away. Or had he?
He said he hadn't known about the baby.
It was like seeing him clearly for the first time.
She swallowed the lump stuck in her throat. "I believe you."
A wrenching sob loosened the tight band around her chest and she burst into tears. "You'd better go."
"I'm not leaving you." He stood. "Where do you keep your tissues?"
She wiped the back of her hand across her eyes and snuffled. "What did you say?"
"I asked where you kept your tissues."
"In the bathroom. Before that you said something else."
"I said I'm not leaving you."
The lump was back in her throat. She twisted her hands together.
He knelt beside her. "I'll never leave you. Ever. You've carried this pain too long. You have to let it go. I'll help."
"You don't have to stay. I'll be okay."
"Do you want me to go?" His dark eyes searched hers.
"I'm not sure."
"What are not sure about?"
"About you. About us. About thinking you have to take care of me. I'm okay. I'm used to looking after myself. I don't need you."
"Do you want me to go?"
She chewed her lip. She hesitated. What should she do? "For now I'd like you to stay."
"Then it's settled." He stood.
"What's settled?"
"I'm staying. I'll get the tissues and while you dry your eyes I'll make fresh coffee." He flashed his lady killer smile. "Then we'll have the whole day to get to know each other."
Caroline shook her head. "What about Kate Southern? We can't forget her. She's the girl you never knew."
"I won't forget her. She's part of you and you're important to me." He stood. "I'll get the tissues. Which way to the bathroom?"
"Down the hall, straight ahead." She wiped a tear trickling down her cheek. She was important to Greg Fraser?
How did it happen? It was like being in the right place at the wrong time. Or being in the wrong place at the right time. She gazed at him walking towards her holding out a box of tissues. The ice in her heart melted.
Maybe she was in the right place at the right time.
He handed her the tissues and sat beside her on the sofa. "Since meeting you it's been hellishly hard getting past the roadblocks you kept throwing up."
"I had to protect Kate. She was safe, her past a secret. No one could hurt her." Caroline dabbed her teary eyes with a couple of tissues. "Until you walked into the clinic I had my life under control. I risked returning to Markbridge because I thought you were permanently out of the country. I didn't care if anyone recognized me. I wasn't hiding anything. I didn't think it was important to announce I'd attended school here. I'd been away for years and made a life for myself."
She wrapped her arms around her waist. "I feel like I've been swept out to sea, struggling to feel solid ground under my feet, struggling to find a safe place, struggling to see the sky."
Emotionally drained she edged away from him. "I can't get my mind around the fact you're here and nothing will ever be the same. Everything has changed. Can't you feel it?"
"I sure can. It's as if the earth has shifted under my feet, and not just to-day. After I met you at the lake, heard the sirens and someone said a woman on a bike had been hit by a car I tried not to think the worst, but I thought it. It was a nightmare. When I got to the accident and saw you wrapped in a blanket, alive and reasonably well...I."
He blinked. Moisture shone in his eyes. "I thanked the gods who look after doctors riding bikes."
A rueful smile tipped his lips. "Remembering the name of Big Jack Weaver was the icing on the cake, the catalyst bringing us together."
"I could have missed going to the lake. I rode in to get a drink that's all."
"It's a small world and Markbridge is a small town. We'd have met sometime, somewhere. Last night was a link in the chain we forged thirteen years ago."
"It's a broken chain. We're different people now. You are not who I thought you were and I have to get used to who you are now. Does that make sense?"
If fate had taken a hand in their lives she could let go. She could let him into her life. Slowly.
"You puzzled me." Greg said. "I couldn't figure out why you froze me with an icy stare when I offered to water your dying petunias in the window box at the clinic. You made a lasting impression. You reminded me of a wary animal ready to pounce if I got too close."
"I wanted you to go away and never come back."
He grinned. "I don't give up easily. I had to figure out why you were so uptight around me. I don't frighten small children or kick dogs. So what was it? A feeling of something connecting us? I decided to get to know you."
Caroline shifted around to gaze in his eyes. "To me you were bad news but I couldn't stay away from you. It was like being pulled in two directions. I made excuses why I didn't want to see you again and ended up driving to your home when I could have phoned."
Greg kissed her lightly on the lips. "Doesn't that tell you something?"
Caught off guard she hadn't expected the kiss and tried to remain cool while her heartbeat bounced around. Too unsure to rush into a relationship with him, she slid farther along the sofa to give herself breathing room.
"I'm not sure what it tells me. Part of me wanted to hurt you for abandoning me, part of me wanted to figure out what kind of man you'd become."
"What have you decided?"
A flush warmed her face and she lowered her gaze. "You're considerate and thoughtful and I'd like to get to know you."
"Why not start now? My life is an open book, boring in parts but mildly exciting, like the time I climbed a tree to rescue a cat that didn't want to be rescued."
Trust him to make her smile. "What happened?"
"I fell and broke my ankle."
"And the cat?" Caroline asked.
"It smirked at me as I lay on the ground clutching my ankle. The cat eventually worked its way down. My ankle was in a cast for six weeks."
"I've nothing as exciting in my life as treed cats so I suggest we eat. You offered to make coffee. I'll do bacon and eggs. You do the toast. We'll have breakfast together."
He stood, grasped her hands and drew her up to stand directly in front of him. "Before embarking on breakfast, I have something to say to you."
Caroline's knees wobbled. "Good or bad?"
"Depends on how you respond."
"You'd better tell me."
"I love you."
"You can't, I mean how can you? You don't know me."
"I know Caroline Balfour. I want to know Kate Southern."
He loved her. Her emotions in a free fall, she slid her hands out of his.
"I'm the same person I've always been. Katherine Janice Southern Balfour. "Don't rush me, Greg. I'm not sure of anything right now. I'm carrying a lot of baggage where you're concerned."
She sighed. "It's like starting over with a clean slate. Getting to know you. You getting to know me."
He loved her. How could he?
She hugged herself. Being loved felt good, like being cocooned in warmth.
Was his love for real? It didn't seem possible. She wiped her eyes with crumpled tissues. Too much was happening too fast. She clutched at straws. "When did you decide you loved me?"
Greg grinned. "I sent you a dozen red roses after you impolitely dismissed me from your office."
Caroline bit back a smile. "So you fell in love with a bad tempered harridan. Right?"
"Not quite. I rescued the harridan from a thunderstorm."
Caroline shivered. "I almost jumped out of your car when I recognized you."
The memory embarrassed her. He'd been kind, calmed her shaky nerves and offered to carry her groceries into the house. She'd rudely refused his help.
"I'm sorry I was ungrateful. I had to get away. I didn't want you reminding me of the past."
He folded her in his arms. "Caroline, the past is behind us. We have a future together."
"It's too soon to think about a future when we've just met."
She eased away from him but not too far. She liked being close to him, liked being loved, but she had to be careful. A panicky quiver fluttered around her heart.
"Greg, we have to be sensible. This part of our lives started when you walked into the clinic. I don't understand how you can love me. I haven't been loveable."
"You were untouchable more than unlovable. I wanted to touch you, to hold your hand. I lay awake at night working out devious schemes to lure you into spending time with me. I was running out of fresh ideas when you arrived at the party last night." He kissed her. "That shook me up."
"And me." His kiss shook her up. The panicky shiver morphed into a desire for more kisses, more touching, his hands roaming over her. She snuggled back into his arms. Her 36B breasts, not great by Tansy Somerville's standards, reacted with nipples peaking like they wanted to escape to freedom and find their way into Greg's mouth.
Slow down. Cool it. One kiss and she's like a basket case.
Pulses danced seductively where they shouldn't be dancing. If she and Greg were to have a future she'd have to be sensible until the time was right. He was ready to roll. A few more kisses and she'd roll with him and maybe regret it.
He said he loved her. It was unreal, like finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and wondering if it was real, and if it was, what to do about it.
"This is wild, isn't it? The way everything has turned out." Caroline's world had taken a three hundred and sixty degree spin and she wasn't sure where and how to land safely.
"As if you can't believe what's happening," Greg said.
"It's like shedding a skin. Like being unprotected. Like not being sure what to do first."
"Trust me, Caroline. I will never hurt you."
She knew in her heart he never would. She was safe with him. Tears beaded her lashes.
"You're crying."
"No I'm not. I mean, yes I am, but they're not sad tears."
"Right. Not sad." He wiped a tear trickling down her cheek.
"I don't know whether I'm on my head or my heels or dancing on air or..." She hesitated almost afraid to say the words. "Or falling in love."
"Falling in love sounds good to me. Want to give it a try?"
Caroline drew in a deep calming breath. "Not yet. I think we should begin at the beginning and start dating like two ordinary people who have been introduced by a well meaning friend and are attracted to each other. It'll give the town gossips something to talk about."
"How about we start today?" Greg kissed the top of her head.
Pleasurable tingles rippled into desire. Her breasts swelled against the lacy bra. If she breathed deeply again they'd pop out.
"We can spend the day together." She almost said day and night but wasn't ready for lovemaking until she was absolutely sure of her feelings. There'd be no turning back when she took a giant step into the future with him. Until then she'd cool it.
He held her at arm's length. "You have a date this evening."
"I do?"
"With Mark Moreland."
"I'll cancel it."
"That's my girl." He drew her slowly towards him. "Do we kiss on a first date?"
"Like now?"
"Like now." He kissed her.
She flicked the tip of her tongue along his lips. "If today counts as our first date I think we should do it right."
"Like this."
Caroline melted into the kiss. "Like that," she murmured and nestled into the warmth of his arms. "I think this is going to work if we take our time."
He tilted his head and gazed into her eyes. "What's going to work?"
"You and me."
He grinned. "I knew it when I saw you at the clinic. That's the woman for me, I said to myself. You didn't know it but your days as a single lady doctor were numbered."
"I'm surprised you didn't ask to marry me when I tossed you out of my office. You seem to thrive on tough love."
"Only yours. Only yours." He kissed her. "Cancel your dinner date. You and I are spending the day together. Uninterrupted. Somewhere quiet."
"What about Davie?"
"My mother's home for a couple of weeks. She's having a ball with her first grandchild." He shrugged. "I miss looking after the little guy. He got me thinking."
"About what?"
"About getting married, having a family."
"Are we talking about marriage? About you and me?"
"It's what I want, what about you?"
"Married with children? You're moving too fast, Greg. I'm not there yet. I used to dream about having a husband and a family. Maybe three kids."
"I think that's brilliant. When do we start?"
Caroline raised her brows. "As soon as I get used to being in love with you."
"How long will that take?"
"I'm not sure. A day, maybe two, maybe longer."
"Sounds good. I'll get the marriage license. Tell me when and I'll be on your doorstep to sweep you away."
She started to laugh. "I have to arrange for a temporary replacement at the clinic. I can't walk out on my patients to go on a honeymoon."
A troubling thought crossed her mind. "What will your parents think of you rushing into marriage with a stranger? Do they have to know about...?" She couldn't finish what she started to say.
He clasped her hands and kissed them. "No one has to know about the pregnancy if that's worrying you."
"I'd just as soon not discuss it with your parents. It would open old wounds and since you didn't recognize me, I don't think your father will. It would make him feel bad if I reminded him of what happened. I don't want that."
A frown furrowed Greg's brow. "I wish I could change the past. I wish..."
"I know you do but we can't so I propose we do something fun today to make up for lost time. After breakfast let's pack up and go on a picnic. I've got fruit in the fridge and the fixings for sandwiches."
She studied the sadness lurking in his eyes. "We'll find a peaceful place to talk and get to know each other." A roguish smile touched her lips. "As soon as I fall in love with you we'll get married and start a family."
"Is that a promise?" Greg asked.
"It's a promise," Caroline replied.

I'd love to hear from you. Check my web site.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dickens and Me

(Copyright 2009, Anita Birt)

Greg left the party shortly after Caroline. Why the big secret about her past? He'd felt like a damned fool when Tansy surprised everyone by remembering Caroline from their student days at Markbridge High.
How many times had he been with her and hadn't made the connection? So much for his photographic memory.
His memory of Kate Southern was sporadic. She'd been in his classes all through high school. A brilliant student. Very reserved. All he could recall for sure was her hair. She'd had a long braid. He'd yanked it once and she'd decked him. Must have been when they were thirteen or fourteen before he shot up to six feet.
A flash of memory caught him by surprise. He remembered the color of her eyes, blue shading to violet. Where had that come from?
He'd heard her father had smashed up his truck one Christmas Eve and died at the scene. Why hadn't he tried to speak to her then? She must have been devastated.
He hadn't known Kate at all until their final year in school. They'd tied as top students in their class and been chosen to represent Markbridge High at a political debate in Ottawa with schools from across Canada.
Greg drove home slowly and felt bad. She'd never been part of his crowd, the in clique. You were in or you were out. Most of the guys on the football team and the girls who hung around with them came from families who could afford skiing holidays in the winter and trips to Europe in the summer.
Memories flooded back.
Kate worked after school and on holidays. He'd seen her checking out groceries in the market on weekends and pumping gas at the local Shell station on week nights. Not once when he went for a fill of gas had he paid any attention to her except to say, "hi." She might as well have been invisible.
He parked his car in the garage and walked down to the swing. His last memory of Kate Southern was of her wrapped in a sheet, huddled in bed beside him, crying.
Hell, he hadn't known she was a virgin. At eighteen? The girls he'd known had lost their virginity years before eighteen.
He'd used a condom, the only one he had. Greg propped his head in his hands. Kate had wanted more after the first time. He should have stopped. She'd had too much to drink with some of the kids at the party. So had he.
She'd climbed on top of him and pressed her breasts against his mouth. He'd latched on to her nipples like there was no tomorrow.
His testosterone fuelled erection had been rock hard. She'd arched up and taken him deep inside her.
Greg winced. If he'd had a lick of sense he'd have rolled out of bed and headed for a cold shower but her quivering response lured him on. He'd come with a bed rocking rush, removed the condom and slipped back inside her for a second go round before they fell asleep.
What a mess. It wasn't love. It was stupid teen sex, horny and irresponsible like a pair of rutting animals.
The morning after was a disaster. She blamed him for what happened. He blamed her for inviting him into her room.
He remembered apologizing. At the time he thought they were both responsible. After they'd returned home and graduated she'd avoided him and he hadn't attempted to speak with her. He'd gone out west to work in the oil fields for the summer before starting university in the fall.
Would things have been different if he'd made the effort to call on her? Greg leaned back on the swing. Was Caroline's prickly attitude because he'd taken her virginity thirteen years ago? Is that why she hadn't told him who she was?
Did the memory embarrass her?
He'd forgotten it until tonight. Now it played like a bad movie inside his head. If what happened in Ottawa still bothered her they could talk it over now like mature adults.
Easier said than done, he thought, but giving up on Caroline wasn't in the cards. He got off the swing and walked up on the veranda. Kim whined behind the front door.
"Quiet." He turned the key in the lock. He didn't want the dog to wake his mother or Davie.
Kim wagged her tail and followed him to the kitchen. Greg closed the door behind them. It was nearly midnight. He picked up the phone.
Damn, he didn't have her home number.
Okay, he'd park outside her house in the morning and wait for her to leave or he'd ring the bell if she didn't appear by nine o'clock.
He had to find out what was bugging her so he could clear the air between them.
* * * * *
A persistent ringing jolted Caroline awake. Bleary eyed from a restless night she propped her elbow on the bed and inspected the clock radio. Nine o'clock! She clapped her hands over her ears.
"Go away," she moaned. Her head ached. She felt like death.
The bell pealed again. With murder in her heart, she got out of bed and stamped to the intercom. "I don't want anything. I'm not interested in religion. I'm sleeping."
"Caroline, I have to talk to you."
"Now?" She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. After last night's disaster Greg was not on her radar. Not today. Maybe never.
"I've picked up two cartons of coffee and bran muffins. We have to talk."
"I'm not dressed and it's too early to talk."
She heard his intake of breath. "I've been up most of the night thinking about you."
"Too bad." She massaged her forehead to clear away the cobwebs threading around her brain.
"I'll stay out here all day and ring your doorbell every two hours until you let me in. We have to talk."
He had her over a barrel. "Okay. You win because I don't want you bothering the neighbors in the building."
She pressed the door release. "Leave the food in the kitchen." She hurried to the bedroom.
Snatching underwear from the bureau drawer on the way to the bathroom she stopped long enough to snap the bra together and step into the panties. She ran cold water in the basin, stuck her head in and splashed herself awake.
Dried off, her hair combed, she put on the navy shirt and shorts she'd worn at the barbecue. Damned if she'd meet him wearing a robe, that would put her at a disadvantage.
In the mood for a knock'em down drag'em down fight she walked slowly to the kitchen.
"Good morning," Greg said.
His cheerful "good morning" did nothing to ease the miserable headache lurking behind Caroline's eyes. He'd hauled her out of bed way too early on her day off and she wasn't in the mood to be polite.
The mouth-watering aroma of fresh coffee teased her taste buds. A caffeine fix would wind her up to deal with him.
She collected plates from the cupboard, opened the bag of muffins and placed two on each plate. "I'll take these. You bring the coffee. We'll sit in the living room."
He followed her. She put the plates on the table next to his roses and sat on the sofa with her back straight and her bare feet planted firmly on the floor. A fighting stance. Ready to spring at him if necessary.
He handed her a cup of coffee and sat on the chair facing her.
This isn't real, Caroline thought. It's as if they were actors in a play waiting for the curtain to go up before speaking their lines. She'd hear what he had to say before launching into her part.
She pried the lid off the cup and sipped some coffee.
Greg broke the silence. "Why didn't you tell me who you were?"
"I thought you'd guess. When you didn't I hoped I'd never see you again."
"You did, several times. I don't understand why the big secret. Why you couldn't play straight with me."
"Play straight with you? You still don't get it, do you?" Too stressed to take another bite, she put the muffin back on the plate. Her shoulders tensed.
"Right, I don't get it." His dark eyed gaze never left her face.
"Okay, I'll tell you. You remember Kate Southern. You remember." Caroline bit her lip. "You remember going to Ottawa with her. With me."
"We were on the debating team."
His attitude burned her. So casual. So cocky. Anger smoldered in her gut. "Remember after the party we ended up in my bed." Saying the words sickened her. Sex with Greg had almost ruined her life.
He leaned forward in his chair. "Of course, I remember. You invited me into your room. We made love."
Caroline stormed to her feet. Coffee splashed on her shirt. She put the cup on the table. "Is that what it was? Love making? Get real. It was raw sex and meant nothing to either of us. I wish I could forget but I can't. You didn't care what happened to me afterwards, did you?" She knuckled her fists into her eyes to stop the tears.
"I'm sorry about what happened. I didn't know you were a virgin."
Caroline's pent up fury erupted. "Your apology is thirteen years too late! I told you I was pregnant. I asked for help. You said, have an abortion and dumped me."
She clasped her arms around her waist and turned away from him. "Get out of here. I never want to see you again."
Shocked by her hit and run punch Greg struggled to understand what she'd said. "What are you talking about? What pregnancy?" How could he have dumped her? They hadn't spoken to each other after they'd returned home from Ottawa. He set the coffee cup on the table and stood.
Caroline whirled to face him. "Our pregnancy. I was the unlucky one in the equation wasn't I? You got off scot-free. You didn't have the courage to tell me yourself. You sent your father to offer me money to pay for an abortion."
She stalked to the window, tweaked a dead bloom from a pink geranium and crushed it between her fingers. "He offered to pay the fees for my first year at university. I told him what I thought of you and him and went to the Toronto clinic on my own."
Dropping the crumpled bloom on the sill, she stalked back to him. "Please leave. I've nothing more to say to you."
Caroline's surprise attack had caught him off guard. What the hell was going on? She'd hit him below the belt and left him hanging on the ropes. Why the mystery about his father? What did he have to do with Kate Southern? When had she met him? Greg sucked air into his lungs.
"I'm not going anywhere until I know what you're talking about. You're not making sense. How was I supposed to know you were pregnant? Nobody told me anything about an abortion. How was I supposed to know? I was working on an oil rig in Alberta all summer." He hesitated. "Are you sure I was responsible?"
"Don't do this to me! I went through hell because of you." She clenched her fists, rushed at him and thumped his chest. "Get out of my apartment. I don't want you in my space. You're a liar and a cheat and..."
He grasped her wrists. "I'm staying until you hear what I have to say. I did not know you were pregnant. Are you listening to me? I did not know."
He released her hands and sucked in more air. "Look at me. Blink if you heard what I said."
If she was telling the truth his father had betrayed them. Greg's stomach lurched. Ever since he'd met Caroline he'd been quietly falling in love with her. He'd come round with coffee and muffins hoping to clear the air between them. Instead of clearing the air, he'd made things worse by insisting on seeing her.
"You are telling me you didn't know I was pregnant and I'm supposed to believe you. Your father said he spoke to you and you urged me to have an abortion."
"Stop right there. The only time my father phoned when I was out west was to tell me I'd won a university scholarship. When did you talk to him?"
"As soon as I knew I was pregnant I went to your home and told your father." A bitter smile tightened her lips. "We sat on the veranda. He didn't invite me in. He heard what I had to say and promised to phone you. He wouldn't give me your number so I could call you myself."
Caroline heaved a sigh. "Then he came to my house. My mother had died from breast cancer two months before high school graduation. I had no one to turn to. Your father said..."
Words stuck in her throat. She rubbed her chest to ease the pain in her heart. "He said you didn't want the baby. He said you were too young to be a father. He said it would be better for both of us if I had an abortion. I couldn't do it. My innocent baby deserved to live."
Bruised and hurting, memories returned to sadden her. Why did he have to come back to Markbridge? Seeing him had opened up a Pandora's Box of old wounds.
She had forgiven herself.
She would never forgive him.
She wouldn't break down now. Not in front of him. She'd cried rivers of tears thirteen years ago when she gave up the baby for adoption. Suicide hadn't been far from her thoughts until she came to her senses. She had to live for her mother's sake.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dickens and Me

NOTE: I shall be away on Friday, May 22nd. Watch for CHAPTER SIXTEEN on Tuesday, May 19 – unless I forget to post it!

(Copyright 2009 Anita Birt)
Dr. Moreland crossed the patio to greet her. "You're looking very lovely, Caroline. How was your day?"
"Busy. You know what summer Saturdays are like."
"Indeed I do. Now what can I get you to drink?"
"A white wine, thanks."
Tansy shifted sideways on her chair and gazed at Caroline. "You remind me of..."
She propped her elbow on the armrest, cupped her chin in her hand and studied Caroline's face. "The second you walked through the door I knew I had seen you somewhere. It's the way you hold your head. Tell me if I'm wrong but you remind me of Kate Southern, smartest girl in Markbridge High."
No point dodging the bullet. "Thank you for remembering me." Caroline wondered how she held her head that was so remarkable. Greg hadn't remembered. Maybe women noticed things men didn't.
Tansy sat back and crossed her arms over her very pregnant stomach. "It's your eyes. You used to look right through me as if I didn't exist. I'll bet you set this meeting up to surprise us."
"What did she set up?" Mark asked and handed Caroline a glass of chilled wine. Drops of moisture beaded the glass.
"I didn't set anything up. I had no idea who was going to be here." She hoped her tight-lipped reply would limit further discussion, if not she had to deal with the situation.
"Does Greg know?" Tansy asked.
"Tansy, what are you two talking about?" Jack called out.
Caroline's hand trembled. Better get it over with. She placed her glass on a small table beside her chair, stood and turned to Dr. and Mrs. Moreland seated nearby.
"I had no idea so many Markbridge High alumni would be here."
"What difference does that make, Caroline? They are all relatives or friends of our family. Are you not feeling well, my dear?"
Dr. Moreland's kindly smile almost wrecked her but she had to finish what Tansy had started. When they heard what she had to say she'd gracefully retreat, head unbowed, held in a certain unmistakable manner.
"I'm fine. I think everyone should know I attended Markbridge High. Tansy made the connection."
"You attended school here? When?" Greg asked.
Caroline lifted her chin. "You and I graduated the same year. You knew me as Kate Southern."
A cone of silence enveloped the group. Free of the burden threatening her the second she'd seen the old school crowd, Caroline relaxed. The worst was over. Still alive and well, she determined to enjoy the evening as best she could.
"This is absolutely wonderful." Mrs. Moreland beamed at her guests. "A surprise reunion, you can all make up for lost time." She rested her hand on her husband's arm.
"Time to fire up the barbecue and, Mark, there are two bottles of Champagne in the fridge. I was saving them for later. I think we should celebrate now."
Greg drew Caroline aside and clasped her hands. "Dr. Balfour, Kate Southern, you've created quite a stir."
"Have I?" She hung on to her frayed nerves. Worse things had happened to her. She'd get through this.
"Why didn't you tell me who you were when we met at the clinic?"
She freed her hands. "What difference would that have made?" She lowered her voice. "I wasn't interested in knowing you and I didn't think you cared to know me."
Jack barged between them. "You've sure changed. I wouldn't have recognized you. I like your hair."
He glanced at Tansy. "How did you put two and two together and make four?"
She pressed her hands over her stomach. "Baby's kicking. Have you any children, Kate? I hope you don't mind if I call you Kate instead of Caroline?"
"I don't mind." She remained standing like a prisoner awaiting a firing squad. "I don't have any children. I'm divorced and kept my ex-husband's name."
Tansy warmed to the subject of Caroline's past as Kate Southern. "You used to fascinate me. You were so smart. Aced everything. I wondered how you did it."
"I worked hard." Caroline said and hoped Tansy would drop the subject.
"Maybe it was because you didn't mix with the rest of us. You always kept to yourself."
Tansy was thick as a plank if that's how she remembered Kate Southern. Ready to spit fire, Caroline controlled her temper. She was a guest of the Moreland's and would not spoil their party to prick Tansy's mistaken assumption about the past.
If she wanted revenge she could enlighten the group about Tansy's reputation as an easy lay. Boys had sniggered about her as she walked past their lockers. "Me next, Tansy." They'd hiss and rub the front of their pants.
Mark stepped out on the patio carrying a tray of Champagne flutes and two open bottles of Dom Perignon. "Come and help yourselves."
He placed the tray on the table, poured two glasses and handed one to Caroline.
"To Caroline/Kate. You and I will stroll in the garden and discuss the future."
"Mark, I'll need help with the barbecue." Dr. Moreland called out. "See if the steaks are marinated and ready to go."
Greg intervened. "In that case, I'll take a glass and walk with Caroline in the garden. We've some catching up to do."
His dark eyes locked on her eyes. "Don't you agree?"
A walk in the garden with Greg for a few minutes was the lesser of two evils. The high school crowd had always ignored her and she had no desire to attract their attention now.
They strolled down the steps and walked slowly along a flagstone path bordered by beds of bright begonias.
"Why didn't you tell me you were Kate Southern when I called at the clinic?"
"I was in shock." Playing for time she paused to breathe in the scent of pink roses blooming on a heavily laden bush. Her self-confidence had taken a hit. Greg's questions rattled her.
"What kind of shock?"
"I'm not prepared to discuss it here. Let's go back and join the others."
"Wait a minute. You and I went to school together. What's so shocking about that?"
Too stressed to argue with him she walked to the end of the garden and paused under the softly swaying branches of a willow tree. She hoped he'd return to his friends and not push her into discussing the past. She couldn't deal with it here.
Surprised to find him close behind her Caroline turned to face him.
"We attended the same school. We were not friends, ever."
"That was thirteen years ago. I didn't recognize you at the clinic but you remembered me so why didn't you introduce yourself?"
Caroline swallowed some Champagne to moisten her dry throat. Didn't he know? Why was he being so dense? "As far as I was concerned there was no reason why I should."
"That was then, how about now? Do you still feel the same way or can we get together, maybe go on a picnic, or have dinner?" He grinned. "I don't bite."
Caroline's carefully laid plans to avoid him had blown apart the minute she stepped on the patio. "I'll give you a call."
"Caroline. Greg." Mrs. Moreland waved from the patio. "Time to eat."
Caroline pasted a smile on her face. "Try to look as though we've had a pleasant conversation. I don't want to spoil the party."
"To make us look authentic I'll link my arm through yours as if we're old friends. When are we going to meet?" He glanced at her. "You're not smiling."
"I am smiling." She beamed at him over the rim of her Champagne glass. "Please let go of my arm," she muttered through clenched teeth.
"Not a chance until we reach the patio. Don't grit your teeth it spoils the effect, makes your smile forced."
Caroline resisted the temptation to jab him with her elbow.
He released her arm at the patio steps. "Great to catch up on old times, Caroline. Let's get together soon." He gazed into her eyes almost daring her to refuse.
She handed him her empty glass. "I'll let you know." and ran up the steps.
Mrs. Moreland passed her a plate. "Please help yourself to steak and salad. There's garlic bread in the basket."
Tansy motioned Caroline to sit beside her. "I can't believe Greg didn't recognize you. Maybe it's a female thing. Women notice things men don't. Sometimes they can be so dense it's pitiful."
Dense or a convenient memory, Caroline thought.
Tansy leaned towards her. "Men always notice big boobies like mine. I wore a 38C cup when I was fourteen. The guys drooled over me." She glanced at Caroline's shirt. "What size were you as a teen? You're not very big now."
Feeling silly for taking part in such a personal conversation Caroline stuck her finger in her cheek like a kid trying to remember something. "I'm not sure, 34A or 36A."
"What about now?" Tansy smirked.
"The same." Caroline cut a small piece of steak and ate it. "Doctor Moreland, the steak is delicious."
"My wife's responsible. She makes the marinade. I barbecue."
Caroline concentrated on the food hoping Tansy would change the subject from breasts to something less personal. Her ragged nerves weren't up to discussing bra sizes.
"Are you and Greg an item," Tansy asked.
"That's too bad. You look good together."
Caroline studied the food on her plate. Linking her with Greg was the last straw.
"Excuse me." Caroline stood and carried her plate to the serving table for more salad.
Greg strolled over to her. "When can we get together?"
"I'm not sure." She picked up a piece of garlic bread and bit into it. "I'm having a wonderful conversation with Tansy."
"About old times?" Greg asked.
"About brassiere sizes." Caroline enjoyed his surprised gaze and walked across the patio to sit with Sarah.
Like a movie filmed in slow motion the rest of the evening crept by on leaden feet.
Eating and fielding questions about her work filled an hour. Did she deliver babies? She did. What was the worst case she'd ever had to deal with? Could not discuss it. How much malpractice insurance did she carry? Jack posed the question.
Dr. Moreland interrupted. "Sorry, that's clinic business." He diverted the discussion away from Caroline.
Conversation swirled around her as coffee, dessert and liqueurs filled another hour. Caroline stuck with black coffee.
Despite her best efforts to discourage him Mark persisted in his attentions and she promised to have dinner with him tomorrow evening.
At eleven she thanked the Moreland's for inviting her, said good-bye to everyone and drove home.
Too restless to sleep she picked up a medical journal to read the latest data on AID'S drugs. In minutes the print blurred and she tossed it aside.
Greg didn't care how badly he'd treated her. His arrogant attitude rubbed salt in her wounded heart. He blamed her for not telling him at the clinic she'd gone to Markbridge High. Why was he pretending that nothing had happened between them?
She bit her lip. Why couldn't he leave her alone? Why pester her about meeting him? He'd dropped her thirteen years ago when she desperately sought his help. Didn't he have a clue what it was like to have no one to hold her hand, to offer a shoulder to lean on?
She'd been eighteen years old, pregnant with his child. He had turned his back on her and left her to cope as best she could.
Tears misted her eyes. If only he had come for her. Talked with her. Spent time with her. They could have worked something out.