Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - my historical romance


I don't think this is going to work. I'm having so many problems sending my Word document to my blog. Here goes. Didn't work. Sorry about that. I shall try again tomorrow until I beat this problem.

In the meantime, I'm posting the cover of my romantic suspense here hoping to tempt someone, all of you, into purchasing it for your e-reader.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - Replacing Chapter One

I wonder if this will work. The printing looks a bit better than the previous one. We shall see.


ONE FOR SORROW. TWO FOR JOY
Copyright Anita Birt 2010





CHAPTER ONE

Wales and Scotland, 1820

"Can we no' go into town, lass, I'm that weary, my bones ache. Let us find lodgings for the night, the constables will no' find us here."
Ailsa MacDonald tucked a wool blanket around her father's gaunt frame. He shivered. His eyes, bright with fever, searched hers.
"Tomorrow, father, the sun is well down the sky. Soon it will be dark and the rooms all taken. 'Tis a beautiful evening, we'll do better here in God's good fresh air than a stuffy room at an inn."
He sighed and rested a thin hand on Ailsa's arm. "What money do we have left?"
"Pennies, father, enough for a night or two's lodging. We'll stay awhile in the town until you're well enough to travel."
"Then we'll be away to Bristol and board a ship to..." His voice trailed away and his eyes closed.
Dreaming their dream, Ailsa thought. Their dream of taking ship to Canada to escape from the terror they had left behind in Scotland.
Sunlight filtered through the trees overhead and warmth of the July day lingered in the spinney where they'd sheltered. From a nearby field the scent of newly mown hay drifted on the summer air
Ailsa blinked back tears and gazed at the town across the river. Tomorrow they'd cross the bridge into Usk and seek help. Without nourishing food, her father would weaken further, except for a loaf of bread they had eaten nothing for two days.
He had forbidden her to spend the gold sovereign sewn into her jacket until they reached Bristol but soon she'd have to tell him their quest was hopeless. The sovereign would sustain them until he regained his health and she found employment.
Bending down she brushed a kiss across his cheek. "I'll be off to fetch something for supper, rest until I return." His eyes opened and Ailsa forced a smile. "I'll take my bundle with me. If there's no one about, I'll bathe in the river and wash off the dust from the road."
Her father nodded and raised his hand. "Away then and take your time. You're my bonny lass. I'm not so hungry I can't wait for you to bathe before fetching our supper."
Ailsa's heart sank into her shabby boots. If she was lucky, supper would be two or three eggs stolen from an unguarded coop or strawberries plucked from a farm wife's garden.
She hurried across the road and struck out along the path by the river. Walking quickly she left the town behind on the far side. At a bend in the river well out of sight of passersby on the road, Ailsa paused. A magpie screeched from the top of a nearby tree.
"One for sorrow," she murmured and glanced around hoping to see its mate.
Two for joy? It was a silly childish superstition. If joy were to come to her and her father it would not come from seeing two magpies at the same time, but she had wished for two and smiled at her foolishness.
Tempted to bathe before going on, she dropped to her knees on the river bank and peered into a quiet pool shaded by an overhanging willow. The river was in flood and she longed to strip off her worn clothing and slide into the water.
A flickering movement caught her eye. Salmon! She smothered a peal of laughter. Dame fortune had taken pity on her.
Elated at her discovery she studied the fish. It was a goodly size and would revive her father. Tonight they'd eat well and face the morrow with full stomachs.
A trout jumped farther out and sun-sparkled ripples disturbed the smooth surface of the water. Ailsa's reflection shimmered and stilled. Her dirt-smudged face stared up at her. A boy's scruffy cap hid her tightly braided hair.
Careful not to disturb the salmon with a sudden movement she crept backwards up the bank and wasting no time lest it swim away, shoved her shawl-wrapped bundle out of sight under a shrub. Thieves prowled everywhere. Long months on the road had taught her caution. Trust no one.
She dragged off her boots and socks, draped her shabby tweed jacket on a tree branch, hitched up her britches and tightened the frayed rope around her waist.
Shirtsleeves rolled above her elbows, she stretched face down on the bank and wriggled toward the river. At the pool, she anchored her legs and feet around the roots of the willow and hung head first over the riverbank.
She slithered her arms into the cold water. The river soon chilled her. Steadfastly ignoring the numbness creeping into her bones she fluttered her fingers in the crystal clear pool. The salmon approached to investigate.
"Thig thugam eisg mhoir," she whispered in Gaelic.
"Come big fish. Come for a nice wee guddle."
Ailsa curved her hand over the salmon and trailed her fingertips, butterfly-light, along its sides. Its tail fanned slowly, gills opened and closed.
"Now," she murmured and lightning quick thrust her fingers under the gills, flipped the fish clear of the water and landed it beside her.
Squirming away from the river with the salmon thrashing wildly in her hand, she inched up the bank to safety and sat down. Breathless, she dug her father's clasp knife from her pocket, flicked open the blade, slashed deep behind the gills and killed the fish. Blood spattered over her hands.
"What do you think you're doing, boy?" A loud bullying voice stunned Ailsa into shocked silence.
"I spoke to you, boy. Stealing fish, are you? Answer before I take my whip to you.
The man's heavy boot slammed into her ribs. Teeth clamped tight Ailsa scrambled to her feet and prayed he wouldn't see through her disguise. It had been her only protection on the long, difficult journey from Scotland.
Shoulders hunched, the salmon twitching in her hands, she glanced up at the man's dark, scowling face. His pale gray eyes bored into hers. Afraid to let him look too closely, Ailsa bowed her head. Heart thudding against her bruised ribs, knees shaking, she braved it out.
"I'm sorry, sir. I'm very hungry and didn't know this fish belonged to anyone."
"Hungry you may be but this stretch of the river belongs to Lord Rhadyr. He doesn't take kindly to thieving poachers stealing his salmon."
He seized her shirt. "Poaching is a crime in Wales, a very serious crime. I'll take the evidence to show his lordship. He'll thank me for this and then decide what to do with you." The man hefted the salmon and dropped it into a leather sack slung over his shoulder.
"Please sir, may I put on my boots?" She'd run, or jump in the river and swim across. She had to escape and return to her father.
"Be quick. I don't have all day."
Fearing another blow, Ailsa sat down to put on her socks and broken boots.
"Don't try any tricks." He picked up her knife, wiped it on his sleeve, sheathed the blade and and stuck it in his belt. "Stole this too, I wager, too good for the likes of you." He aimed another kick at her. The toe of his boot stabbed the end of her spine. Excruciating pain radiated up her back.
Frightened and dazed by his brutal kicks, Ailsa dragged on her socks and boots, jumped up and plucked her shabby jacket from the tree. The wet sleeves of her shirt clung to her arms as she thrust them into the rough jacket. Snatching up her bundle, she clutched it against her heaving chest.
The man's strong fingers gouged into her skin-and-bones shoulders as he half-led, half-dragged her along the river path. Leaving the river behind, they headed into a densely wooded forest. Weak from hunger and fatigue, Ailsa floundered beside him and fell.
He yanked her to her feet. "Stand up, boy. We've a way to go then you'll be for it. Off to the hulks for the likes of you and away to Australia on one of them convict ships with other thieving rogues."
Convict! Australia! Numb with pain, unable to think clearly, the hate-filled words swamped her senses. Stumbling along beside him she lost track of time. It was dark under the trees. Had night fallen?
As suddenly as they'd entered it they emerged from the forest. Ailsa blinked in the late afternoon sunlight. Ahead was a great sweep of lawn, magnificent formal gardens and a towering mansion that dominated the landscape. Transfixed, she stared at the building.
Two great wings angled away from a central core. Mullioned windows recessed into weathered stone walls reflected the last rays of the setting sun. Golden light shimmered on the glass like eyes empty of life. An ominous quiet loomed over the waning day.
Terrified at what faced her behind those forbidding walls, Ailsa fell to her knees. "Please, sir, don't make me go in there. Whip me and let me go. I'll never go near your river again."
He pulled her up and smacked the side of her head. Stunned from the blow, she fell against him. Tears spilled down her cheeks. With her free hand, she swiped them away with the sleeve of her jacket.
Don't cry. She told herself. Boys don't cry.
The man led her to the rear of the building and shoved her down on a bench beside a closed door.
"Dare to move and I'll have the dogs on you." He whistled and two huge mastiffs bounded across the cobblestone courtyard. He jabbed a finger at Ailsa. "See he stays there." Teeth bared the dogs growled deep in their throats. The man entered the house and closed the door.
Ailsa hugged her bundle, tucked her feet under the bench and some of her panic seeped away. The dangerous animals, stiff hackles ridged along their backs, didn't frighten her. She examined them under lowered lashes careful not to make them nervous with eye contact.
She relaxed, raised her head briefly and risked a smile. The huge dogs examined her. Ailsa breathed deeply and whispered. "I had a dog like you back home. He pretended to be fierce but really wasn't. He was gentle as a lamb just like you."
Her voice, lulling soft, calmed them. Their deep throated growls ceased. Their hackles flattened. Mindful not to alarm them Ailsa put out one hand, palm up, and leaned towards them.
"My name is Ailsa. I wish I knew yours then we'd be friends. That man caught me guddling a salmon. I'm sure no one would miss one fish. What do you think?"
The dogs cocked their heads seeming to puzzle over the question.
"I want you to lie down." Ailsa spoke firmly, raised her hand and signaled. "Lie down."
They flopped at her feet. Someone had trained them well. "That's much better, now I can pat you and we'll be friends."
"How lovely you are." She crooned and rubbed their shaggy heads. "I knew you weren't fierce. I could tell by your eyes but I have to go before that man comes back."
Ailsa stretched and stood. "Stay." She commanded. Tongues lolling, the dogs gazed at her and remained motionless.
The sound of boots rapping sharply on the cobblestones startled her. Frozen to the spot she watched a young man stride across the courtyard towards her. Fearing the worst, Ailsa cowered down on the bench and plucked nervously at the twine holding her bundle together.
The man was tall, taller than the other one, taller than her father. She spied a riding crop in his hand and icy shivers squeezed her chest. Head bent submissively she closed her eyes waiting for him to close in and strike her.
Ailsa's captor threw open the door. "Come here, you young ruffian. The master will see to you." He twisted her arm and dragged her off the bench.
Glowering at the animals lying at her feet, he lashed out with his boot. "Forgot what I told you. I'll fix that!" The dogs sprang out of reach and slunk off, whining.
"What is this about, Morgan? What has the boy done?"
Ailsa stared at the leather crop and the braided thongs swishing idly against shining black riding boots. Hands clenched, she waited dumbly for the blow to fall.
Morgan doffed his cap. "Caught him poaching salmon, milord. Your father will see to him. You know how strict he is about poaching. He'd sooner lose a pheasant or two than a salmon. Likely this rascal will go to the magistrate for sentencing."
The man in the shining boots spoke to Ailsa. "Look at me, lad. Have you been poaching?"
Fearing to disobey, she raised her head. His voice came from far away. From a distant place. It was gentle. Different from the other. Not loud or harsh.
His eyes held hers. Mesmerizing eyes. Above the open collar of his white shirt, his face and strongly muscled neck were deeply tanned. She forced herself to look away.
Timeless seconds passed. A familiar tingling swept up her spine. Ailsa dreaded the gift her great grandmother Elspeth MacDonald had bestowed on her. A fearful premonition overwhelmed her. She had to escape from this place. Away from this man whose dark eyes searched hers, in his questioning gaze danger lurked. Danger to her. Danger to him.
Conscious thought gave way to a future unfolding behind her eyes. In a brilliantly lighted ballroom she whirled around the floor in the arms of the dark-eyed man, laughing up at him but a menacing shadow edged the scene. Evil lurked there. Waiting for her.
Panic seized her. She struggled to breathe. What had she to do with this man?
"Didn't you hear, boy? Lord Colwyn spoke to you. Answer him!" Morgan wrenched her shoulder.
Ailsa winced and gulped in air. Pain shot through her bruised ribs. Eyes downcast, she nodded. "Yes sir, I stole a fish." She peeked up at him from under her cap. His mouth curved in a slight smile.
"Have the boy treated leniently, Morgan. There are plenty of salmon in the river." He rested his hand lightly on Ailsa's trembling shoulder. If he gazed into her eyes again he would surely see through her disguise.
"No more poaching, lad." He turned on his heel, walked a few paces, paused and turned back. "Speak to my father, Morgan. A warning is all the boy needs."
He tapped the riding crop on his boots, frowned slightly, studied Ailsa for several seconds then walked slowly to the whitewashed, stone buildings on the far side of the courtyard.
A glimmer of hope flickered in Ailsa's heart. The touch of Lord Colwyn's hand on her shoulder and his comforting words calmed her worst fears. Morgan pushed her into the house shut the door. The walls closed in.
"Warning indeed," he hissed through clenched teeth. "You'll not get away with poaching while I'm gamekeeper here."
He led her through a labyrinth of passageways. Mouth watering smells drifted through an open kitchen door. Ailsa's nose twitched. Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach.
A few steps past the kitchen, she glanced into a large pantry. Shelves were laden with earthenware crocks. On the floor close by a window baskets brimmed with fruits and vegetables. Hams hung from the ceiling alongside strings of onions and dried herbs.
Staggering in Morgan's tight-fisted grasp she tried desperately to fix an escape route in her mind but terror dimmed her memory. Trapped like an animal by the gamekeeper she was hopelessly lost.
Suddenly Morgan flung open a door. Ailsa paused at the threshold of a vast, lavishly appointed rectangular hall soaring two stories high. Cherubs draped in leafy marble adorned each corner. The last light of day filtered through the beveled glass of a vestibule door. Beyond it, a brass-studded outer door stood open leading to a wide terrace.
Morgan shook her. "Move! Lord Rhadyr wants a look at you before sending you to the magistrate."
Ailsa's footsteps echoed on the white and black marble floor. Opulence surrounded her. Rich tapestries draped the walls. Burnished sconces gleamed beside closed doors. In every sconce were fresh, unlit candles. A wide carpeted staircase swept up to the second floor.
A long-case clock chimed the half-hour its brass pendulum swinging back and forth marking time. Doomed by her crime Ailsa clattered across the floor. Out of harmony with the silvery chime of the clock her last few seconds of freedom ticked away.
Morgan knocked on a door, opened it with a flourish and shoved Ailsa ahead of him. Her broken boots tangled on the thick carpet and she stumbled into the presence of Lord Rhadyr. Rigid with fear, she struggled to her feet and faced the enemy.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, June 21, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - First chapter of a book!

I am going out of my mind trying to download the first chapter of my historical romance novel, tentatively titled: ONE FOR SORROW. TWO FOR JOY.

ONE FOR SORROW. TWO FOR JOY

Copyright Anita Birt

CHAPTER ONE

Wales and Scotland, 1820

"Can we no' go into town, lass, I'm that weary, my bones ache. Let us find lodgings for the night, the constables will no' find us here."

Ailsa MacDonald tucked a wool blanket around her father's gaunt frame. He shivered. His eyes, bright with fever, searched hers.

"Tomorrow, father, the sun is well down the sky. Soon it will be dark and the rooms all taken. 'Tis a beautiful evening, we'll do better here in God's good fresh air than a stuffy room at an inn."

He sighed and rested a thin hand on Ailsa's arm. "What money do we have left?"

"Pennies, father, enough for a night or two's lodging. We'll stay awhile in the town until you're well enough to travel."

"Then we'll be away to Bristol and board a ship to..." His voice trailed away and his eyes closed.

Dreaming their dream, Ailsa thought. Their dream of taking ship to Canada to escape from the terror they had left behind in Scotland.

Sunlight filtered through the trees overhead and warmth of the July day lingered in the spinney where they'd sheltered. From a nearby field the scent of newly mown hay drifted on the summer air

Ailsa blinked back tears and gazed at the town across the river. Tomorrow they'd cross the bridge into Usk and seek help. Without nourishing food, her father would weaken further, except for a loaf of bread they had eaten nothing for two days.

He had forbidden her to spend the gold sovereign sewn into her jacket until they reached Bristol but soon she'd have to tell him their quest was hopeless. The sovereign would sustain them until he regained his health and she found employment.

Bending down she brushed a kiss across his cheek. "I'll be off to fetch something for supper, rest until I return." His eyes opened and Ailsa forced a smile. "I'll take my bundle with me. If there's no one about, I'll bathe in the river and wash off the dust from the road."

Her father nodded and raised his hand. "Away then and take your time. You're my bonny lass. I'm not so hungry I can't wait for you to bathe before fetching our supper."

Ailsa's heart sank into her shabby boots. If she was lucky, supper would be two or three eggs stolen from an unguarded coop or strawberries plucked from a farm wife's garden.

She hurried across the road and struck out along the path by the river. Walking quickly she left the town behind on the far side. At a bend in the river well out of sight of passersby on the road, Ailsa paused. A magpie screeched from the top of a nearby tree.

"One for sorrow," she murmured and glanced around hoping to see its mate.

Two for joy? It was a silly childish superstition. If joy were to come to her and her father it would not come from seeing two magpies at the same time, but she had wished for two and smiled at her foolishness.

Tempted to bathe before going on, she dropped to her knees on the river bank and peered into a quiet pool shaded by an overhanging willow. The river was in flood and she longed to strip off her worn clothing and slide into the water.

A flickering movement caught her eye. Salmon! She smothered a peal of laughter. Dame fortune had taken pity on her.

Elated at her discovery she studied the fish. It was a goodly size and would revive her father. Tonight they'd eat well and face the morrow with full stomachs.

A trout jumped farther out and sun-sparkled ripples disturbed the smooth surface of the water. Ailsa's reflection shimmered and stilled. Her dirt-smudged face stared up at her. A boy's scruffy cap hid her tightly braided hair.

Careful not to disturb the salmon with a sudden movement she crept backwards up the bank and wasting no time lest it swim away, shoved her shawl-wrapped bundle out of sight under a shrub. Thieves prowled everywhere. Long months on the road had taught her caution. Trust no one.

She dragged off her boots and socks, draped her shabby tweed jacket on a tree branch, hitched up her britches and tightened the frayed rope around her waist.

Shirtsleeves rolled above her elbows, she stretched face down on the bank and wriggled toward the river. At the pool, she anchored her legs and feet around the roots of the willow and hung head first over the riverbank.

She slithered her arms into the cold water. The river soon chilled her. Steadfastly ignoring the numbness creeping into her bones she fluttered her fingers in the crystal clear pool. The salmon approached to investigate.

"Thig thugam eisg mhoir," she whispered in Gaelic.

"Come big fish. Come for a nice wee guddle."

Ailsa curved her hand over the salmon and trailed her fingertips, butterfly-light, along its sides. Its tail fanned slowly, gills opened and closed.

"Now," she murmured and lightning quick thrust her fingers under the gills, flipped the fish clear of the water and landed it beside her.

Squirming away from the river with the salmon thrashing wildly in her hand, she inched up the bank to safety and sat down. Breathless, she dug her father's clasp knife from her pocket, flicked open the blade, slashed deep behind the gills and killed the fish. Blood spattered over her hands.

"What do you think you're doing, boy?" A loud bullying voice stunned Ailsa into shocked silence.

"I spoke to you, boy. Stealing fish, are you? Answer before I take my whip to you.

The man's heavy boot slammed into her ribs. Teeth clamped tight Ailsa scrambled to her feet and prayed he wouldn't see through her disguise. It had been her only protection on the long, difficult journey from Scotland.

Shoulders hunched, the salmon twitching in her hands, she glanced up at the man's dark, scowling face. His pale gray eyes bored into hers. Afraid to let him look too closely, Ailsa bowed her head. Heart thudding against her bruised ribs, knees shaking, she braved it out.

"I'm sorry, sir. I'm very hungry and didn't know this fish belonged to anyone."

"Hungry you may be but this stretch of the river belongs to Lord Rhadyr. He doesn't take kindly to thieving poachers stealing his salmon."

He seized her shirt. "Poaching is a crime in Wales, a very serious crime. I'll take the evidence to show his lordship. He'll thank me for this and then decide what to do with you." The man hefted the salmon and dropped it into a leather sack slung over his shoulder.

"Please sir, may I put on my boots?" She'd run, or jump in the river and swim across. She had to escape and return to her father.

"Be quick. I don't have all day."

Fearing another blow, Ailsa sat down to put on her socks and broken boots.

"Don't try any tricks." He picked up her knife, wiped it on his sleeve, sheathed the blade and and stuck it in his belt. "Stole this too, I wager, too good for the likes of you." He aimed another kick at her. The toe of his boot stabbed the end of her spine. Excruciating pain radiated up her back.

Frightened and dazed by his brutal kicks, Ailsa dragged on her socks and boots, jumped up and plucked her shabby jacket from the tree. The wet sleeves of her shirt clung to her arms as she thrust them into the rough jacket. Snatching up her bundle, she clutched it against her heaving chest.

The man's strong fingers gouged into her skin-and-bones shoulders as he half-led, half-dragged her along the river path. Leaving the river behind, they headed into a densely wooded forest. Weak from hunger and fatigue, Ailsa floundered beside him and fell.

He yanked her to her feet. "Stand up, boy. We've a way to go then you'll be for it. Off to the hulks for the likes of you and away to Australia on one of them convict ships with other thieving rogues."

Convict! Australia! Numb with pain, unable to think clearly, the hate-filled words swamped her senses. Stumbling along beside him she lost track of time. It was dark under the trees. Had night fallen?

As suddenly as they'd entered it they emerged from the forest. Ailsa blinked in the late afternoon sunlight. Ahead was a great sweep of lawn, magnificent formal gardens and a towering mansion that dominated the landscape. Transfixed, she stared at the building.

Two great wings angled away from a central core. Mullioned windows recessed into weathered stone walls reflected the last rays of the setting sun. Golden light shimmered on the glass like eyes empty of life. An ominous quiet loomed over the waning day.

Terrified at what faced her behind those forbidding walls, Ailsa fell to her knees. "Please, sir, don't make me go in there. Whip me and let me go. I'll never go near your river again."

He pulled her up and smacked the side of her head. Stunned from the blow, she fell against him. Tears spilled down her cheeks. With her free hand, she swiped them away with the sleeve of her jacket.

Don't cry. She told herself. Boys don't cry.

The man led her to the rear of the building and shoved her down on a bench beside a closed door.

"Dare to move and I'll have the dogs on you." He whistled and two huge mastiffs bounded across the cobblestone courtyard. He jabbed a finger at Ailsa. "See he stays there." Teeth bared the dogs growled deep in their throats. The man entered the house and closed the door.

Ailsa hugged her bundle, tucked her feet under the bench and some of her panic seeped away. The dangerous animals, stiff hackles ridged along their backs, didn't frighten her. She examined them under lowered lashes careful not to make them nervous with eye contact.

She relaxed, raised her head briefly and risked a smile. The huge dogs examined her. Ailsa breathed deeply and whispered. "I had a dog like you back home. He pretended to be fierce but really wasn't. He was gentle as a lamb just like you."

Her voice, lulling soft, calmed them. Their deep throated growls ceased. Their hackles flattened. Mindful not to alarm them Ailsa put out one hand, palm up, and leaned towards them.

"My name is Ailsa. I wish I knew yours then we'd be friends. That man caught me guddling a salmon. I'm sure no one would miss one fish. What do you think?"

The dogs cocked their heads seeming to puzzle over the question.

"I want you to lie down." Ailsa spoke firmly, raised her hand and signaled. "Lie down."

They flopped at her feet. Someone had trained them well. "That's much better, now I can pat you and we'll be friends."

"How lovely you are." She crooned and rubbed their shaggy heads. "I knew you weren't fierce. I could tell by your eyes but I have to go before that man comes back."

Ailsa stretched and stood. "Stay." She commanded. Tongues lolling, the dogs gazed at her and remained motionless.

The sound of boots rapping sharply on the cobblestones startled her. Frozen to the spot she watched a young man stride across the courtyard towards her. Fearing the worst, Ailsa cowered down on the bench and plucked nervously at the twine holding her bundle together.

The man was tall, taller than the other one, taller than her father. She spied a riding crop in his hand and icy shivers squeezed her chest. Head bent submissively she closed her eyes waiting for him to close in and strike her.

Ailsa's captor threw open the door. "Come here, you young ruffian. The master will see to you." He twisted her arm and dragged her off the bench.

Glowering at the animals lying at her feet, he lashed out with his boot. "Forgot what I told you. I'll fix that!" The dogs sprang out of reach and slunk off, whining.

"What is this about, Morgan? What has the boy done?"

Ailsa stared at the leather crop and the braided thongs swishing idly against shining black riding boots. Hands clenched, she waited dumbly for the blow to fall.

Morgan doffed his cap. "Caught him poaching salmon, milord. Your father will see to him. You know how strict he is about poaching. He'd sooner lose a pheasant or two than a salmon. Likely this rascal will go to the magistrate for sentencing."

The man in the shining boots spoke to Ailsa. "Look at me, lad. Have you been poaching?"

Fearing to disobey, she raised her head. His voice came from far away. From a distant place. It was gentle. Different from the other. Not loud or harsh.

His eyes held hers. Mesmerizing eyes. Above the open collar of his white shirt, his face and strongly muscled neck were deeply tanned. She forced herself to look away.

Timeless seconds passed. A familiar tingling swept up her spine. Ailsa dreaded the gift her great grandmother Elspeth MacDonald had bestowed on her. A fearful premonition overwhelmed her. She had to escape from this place. Away from this man whose dark eyes searched hers, in his questioning gaze danger lurked. Danger to her. Danger to him.

Conscious thought gave way to a future unfolding behind her eyes. In a brilliantly lighted ballroom she whirled around the floor in the arms of the dark-eyed man, laughing up at him but a menacing shadow edged the scene. Evil lurked there. Waiting for her.

Panic seized her. She struggled to breathe. What had she to do with this man?

"Didn't you hear, boy? Lord Colwyn spoke to you. Answer him!" Morgan wrenched her shoulder.

Ailsa winced and gulped in air. Pain shot through her bruised ribs. Eyes downcast, she nodded. "Yes sir, I stole a fish." She peeked up at him from under her cap. His mouth curved in a slight smile.

"Have the boy treated leniently, Morgan. There are plenty of salmon in the river." He rested his hand lightly on Ailsa's trembling shoulder. If he gazed into her eyes again he would surely see through her disguise.

"No more poaching, lad." He turned on his heel, walked a few paces, paused and turned back. "Speak to my father, Morgan. A warning is all the boy needs."

He tapped the riding crop on his boots, frowned slightly, studied Ailsa for several seconds then walked slowly to the whitewashed, stone buildings on the far side of the courtyard.

A glimmer of hope flickered in Ailsa's heart. The touch of Lord Colwyn's hand on her shoulder and his comforting words calmed her worst fears. Morgan pushed her into the house shut the door. The walls closed in.

"Warning indeed," he hissed through clenched teeth. "You'll not get away with poaching while I'm gamekeeper here."

He led her through a labyrinth of passageways. Mouth watering smells drifted through an open kitchen door. Ailsa's nose twitched. Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach.

A few steps past the kitchen, she glanced into a large pantry. Shelves were laden with earthenware crocks. On the floor close by a window baskets brimmed with fruits and vegetables. Hams hung from the ceiling alongside strings of onions and dried herbs.

Staggering in Morgan's tight-fisted grasp she tried desperately to fix an escape route in her mind but terror dimmed her memory. Trapped like an animal by the gamekeeper she was hopelessly lost.

Suddenly Morgan flung open a door. Ailsa paused at the threshold of a vast, lavishly appointed rectangular hall soaring two stories high. Cherubs draped in leafy marble adorned each corner. The last light of day filtered through the beveled glass of a vestibule door. Beyond it, a brass-studded outer door stood open leading to a wide terrace.

Morgan shook her. "Move! Lord Rhadyr wants a look at you before sending you to the magistrate."

Ailsa's footsteps echoed on the white and black marble floor. Opulence surrounded her. Rich tapestries draped the walls. Burnished sconces gleamed beside closed doors. In every sconce were fresh, unlit candles. A wide carpeted staircase swept up to the second floor.

A long-case clock chimed the half-hour its brass pendulum swinging back and forth marking time. Doomed by her crime Ailsa clattered across the floor. Out of harmony with the silvery chime of the clock her last few seconds of freedom ticked away.

Morgan knocked on a door, opened it with a flourish and shoved Ailsa ahead of him. Her broken boots tangled on the thick carpet and she stumbled into the presence of Lord Rhadyr. Rigid with fear, she struggled to her feet and faced the enemy.

CHAPTER ONE

Wales and Scotland, 1820

"Can we no' go into town, lass, I'm that weary, my bones ache. Let us find lodgings for the night, the constables will no' find us here."

Ailsa MacDonald tucked a wool blanket around her father's gaunt frame. He shivered. His eyes, bright with fever, searched hers.

"Tomorrow, father, the sun is well down the sky. Soon it will be dark and the rooms all taken. 'Tis a beautiful evening, we'll do better here in God's good fresh air than a stuffy room at an inn."

He sighed and rested a thin hand on Ailsa's arm. "What money do we have left?"

"Pennies, father, enough for a night or two's lodging. We'll stay awhile in the town until you're well enough to travel."

"Then we'll be away to Bristol and board a ship to..." His voice trailed away and his eyes closed.

Dreaming their dream, Ailsa thought. Their dream of taking ship to Canada to escape from the terror they had left behind in Scotland.

Sunlight filtered through the trees overhead and warmth of the July day lingered in the spinney where they'd sheltered. From a nearby field the scent of newly mown hay drifted on the summer air

Ailsa blinked back tears and gazed at the town across the river. Tomorrow they'd cross the bridge into Usk and seek help. Without nourishing food, her father would weaken further, except for a loaf of bread they had eaten nothing for two days.

He had forbidden her to spend the gold sovereign sewn into her jacket until they reached Bristol but soon she'd have to tell him their quest was hopeless. The sovereign would sustain them until he regained his health and she found employment.

Bending down she brushed a kiss across his cheek. "I'll be off to fetch something for supper, rest until I return." His eyes opened and Ailsa forced a smile. "I'll take my bundle with me. If there's no one about, I'll bathe in the river and wash off the dust from the road."

Her father nodded and raised his hand. "Away then and take your time. You're my bonny lass. I'm not so hungry I can't wait for you to bathe before fetching our supper."

Ailsa's heart sank into her shabby boots. If she was lucky, supper would be two or three eggs stolen from an unguarded coop or strawberries plucked from a farm wife's garden.

She hurried across the road and struck out along the path by the river. Walking quickly she left the town behind on the far side. At a bend in the river well out of sight of passersby on the road, Ailsa paused. A magpie screeched from the top of a nearby tree.

"One for sorrow," she murmured and glanced around hoping to see its mate.

Two for joy? It was a silly childish superstition. If joy were to come to her and her father it would not come from seeing two magpies at the same time, but she had wished for two and smiled at her foolishness.

Tempted to bathe before going on, she dropped to her knees on the river bank and peered into a quiet pool shaded by an overhanging willow. The river was in flood and she longed to strip off her worn clothing and slide into the water.

A flickering movement caught her eye. Salmon! She smothered a peal of laughter. Dame fortune had taken pity on her.

Elated at her discovery she studied the fish. It was a goodly size and would revive her father. Tonight they'd eat well and face the morrow with full stomachs.

A trout jumped farther out and sun-sparkled ripples disturbed the smooth surface of the water. Ailsa's reflection shimmered and stilled. Her dirt-smudged face stared up at her. A boy's scruffy cap hid her tightly braided hair.

Careful not to disturb the salmon with a sudden movement she crept backwards up the bank and wasting no time lest it swim away, shoved her shawl-wrapped bundle out of sight under a shrub. Thieves prowled everywhere. Long months on the road had taught her caution. Trust no one.

She dragged off her boots and socks, draped her shabby tweed jacket on a tree branch, hitched up her britches and tightened the frayed rope around her waist.

Shirtsleeves rolled above her elbows, she stretched face down on the bank and wriggled toward the river. At the pool, she anchored her legs and feet around the roots of the willow and hung head first over the riverbank.

She slithered her arms into the cold water. The river soon chilled her. Steadfastly ignoring the numbness creeping into her bones she fluttered her fingers in the crystal clear pool. The salmon approached to investigate.

"Thig thugam eisg mhoir," she whispered in Gaelic.

"Come big fish. Come for a nice wee guddle."

Ailsa curved her hand over the salmon and trailed her fingertips, butterfly-light, along its sides. Its tail fanned slowly, gills opened and closed.

"Now," she murmured and lightning quick thrust her fingers under the gills, flipped the fish clear of the water and landed it beside her.

Squirming away from the river with the salmon thrashing wildly in her hand, she inched up the bank to safety and sat down. Breathless, she dug her father's clasp knife from her pocket, flicked open the blade, slashed deep behind the gills and killed the fish. Blood spattered over her hands.

"What do you think you're doing, boy?" A loud bullying voice stunned Ailsa into shocked silence.

"I spoke to you, boy. Stealing fish, are you? Answer before I take my whip to you.

The man's heavy boot slammed into her ribs. Teeth clamped tight Ailsa scrambled to her feet and prayed he wouldn't see through her disguise. It had been her only protection on the long, difficult journey from Scotland.

Shoulders hunched, the salmon twitching in her hands, she glanced up at the man's dark, scowling face. His pale gray eyes bored into hers. Afraid to let him look too closely, Ailsa bowed her head. Heart thudding against her bruised ribs, knees shaking, she braved it out.

"I'm sorry, sir. I'm very hungry and didn't know this fish belonged to anyone."

"Hungry you may be but this stretch of the river belongs to Lord Rhadyr. He doesn't take kindly to thieving poachers stealing his salmon."

He seized her shirt. "Poaching is a crime in Wales, a very serious crime. I'll take the evidence to show his lordship. He'll thank me for this and then decide what to do with you." The man hefted the salmon and dropped it into a leather sack slung over his shoulder.

"Please sir, may I put on my boots?" She'd run, or jump in the river and swim across. She had to escape and return to her father.

"Be quick. I don't have all day."

Fearing another blow, Ailsa sat down to put on her socks and broken boots.

"Don't try any tricks." He picked up her knife, wiped it on his sleeve, sheathed the blade and and stuck it in his belt. "Stole this too, I wager, too good for the likes of you." He aimed another kick at her. The toe of his boot stabbed the end of her spine. Excruciating pain radiated up her back.

Frightened and dazed by his brutal kicks, Ailsa dragged on her socks and boots, jumped up and plucked her shabby jacket from the tree. The wet sleeves of her shirt clung to her arms as she thrust them into the rough jacket. Snatching up her bundle, she clutched it against her heaving chest.

The man's strong fingers gouged into her skin-and-bones shoulders as he half-led, half-dragged her along the river path. Leaving the river behind, they headed into a densely wooded forest. Weak from hunger and fatigue, Ailsa floundered beside him and fell.

He yanked her to her feet. "Stand up, boy. We've a way to go then you'll be for it. Off to the hulks for the likes of you and away to Australia on one of them convict ships with other thieving rogues."

Convict! Australia! Numb with pain, unable to think clearly, the hate-filled words swamped her senses. Stumbling along beside him she lost track of time. It was dark under the trees. Had night fallen?

As suddenly as they'd entered it they emerged from the forest. Ailsa blinked in the late afternoon sunlight. Ahead was a great sweep of lawn, magnificent formal gardens and a towering mansion that dominated the landscape. Transfixed, she stared at the building.

Two great wings angled away from a central core. Mullioned windows recessed into weathered stone walls reflected the last rays of the setting sun. Golden light shimmered on the glass like eyes empty of life. An ominous quiet loomed over the waning day.

Terrified at what faced her behind those forbidding walls, Ailsa fell to her knees. "Please, sir, don't make me go in there. Whip me and let me go. I'll never go near your river again."

He pulled her up and smacked the side of her head. Stunned from the blow, she fell against him. Tears spilled down her cheeks. With her free hand, she swiped them away with the sleeve of her jacket.

Don't cry. She told herself. Boys don't cry.

The man led her to the rear of the building and shoved her down on a bench beside a closed door.

"Dare to move and I'll have the dogs on you." He whistled and two huge mastiffs bounded across the cobblestone courtyard. He jabbed a finger at Ailsa. "See he stays there." Teeth bared the dogs growled deep in their throats. The man entered the house and closed the door.

Ailsa hugged her bundle, tucked her feet under the bench and some of her panic seeped away. The dangerous animals, stiff hackles ridged along their backs, didn't frighten her. She examined them under lowered lashes careful not to make them nervous with eye contact.

She relaxed, raised her head briefly and risked a smile. The huge dogs examined her. Ailsa breathed deeply and whispered. "I had a dog like you back home. He pretended to be fierce but really wasn't. He was gentle as a lamb just like you."

Her voice, lulling soft, calmed them. Their deep throated growls ceased. Their hackles flattened. Mindful not to alarm them Ailsa put out one hand, palm up, and leaned towards them.

"My name is Ailsa. I wish I knew yours then we'd be friends. That man caught me guddling a salmon. I'm sure no one would miss one fish. What do you think?"

The dogs cocked their heads seeming to puzzle over the question.

"I want you to lie down." Ailsa spoke firmly, raised her hand and signaled. "Lie down."

They flopped at her feet. Someone had trained them well. "That's much better, now I can pat you and we'll be friends."

"How lovely you are." She crooned and rubbed their shaggy heads. "I knew you weren't fierce. I could tell by your eyes but I have to go before that man comes back."

Ailsa stretched and stood. "Stay." She commanded. Tongues lolling, the dogs gazed at her and remained motionless.

The sound of boots rapping sharply on the cobblestones startled her. Frozen to the spot she watched a young man stride across the courtyard towards her. Fearing the worst, Ailsa cowered down on the bench and plucked nervously at the twine holding her bundle together.

The man was tall, taller than the other one, taller than her father. She spied a riding crop in his hand and icy shivers squeezed her chest. Head bent submissively she closed her eyes waiting for him to close in and strike her.

Ailsa's captor threw open the door. "Come here, you young ruffian. The master will see to you." He twisted her arm and dragged her off the bench.

Glowering at the animals lying at her feet, he lashed out with his boot. "Forgot what I told you. I'll fix that!" The dogs sprang out of reach and slunk off, whining.

"What is this about, Morgan? What has the boy done?"

Ailsa stared at the leather crop and the braided thongs swishing idly against shining black riding boots. Hands clenched, she waited dumbly for the blow to fall.

Morgan doffed his cap. "Caught him poaching salmon, milord. Your father will see to him. You know how strict he is about poaching. He'd sooner lose a pheasant or two than a salmon. Likely this rascal will go to the magistrate for sentencing."

The man in the shining boots spoke to Ailsa. "Look at me, lad. Have you been poaching?"

Fearing to disobey, she raised her head. His voice came from far away. From a distant place. It was gentle. Different from the other. Not loud or harsh.

His eyes held hers. Mesmerizing eyes. Above the open collar of his white shirt, his face and strongly muscled neck were deeply tanned. She forced herself to look away.

Timeless seconds passed. A familiar tingling swept up her spine. Ailsa dreaded the gift her great grandmother Elspeth MacDonald had bestowed on her. A fearful premonition overwhelmed her. She had to escape from this place. Away from this man whose dark eyes searched hers, in his questioning gaze danger lurked. Danger to her. Danger to him.

Conscious thought gave way to a future unfolding behind her eyes. In a brilliantly lighted ballroom she whirled around the floor in the arms of the dark-eyed man, laughing up at him but a menacing shadow edged the scene. Evil lurked there. Waiting for her.

Panic seized her. She struggled to breathe. What had she to do with this man?

"Didn't you hear, boy? Lord Colwyn spoke to you. Answer him!" Morgan wrenched her shoulder.

Ailsa winced and gulped in air. Pain shot through her bruised ribs. Eyes downcast, she nodded. "Yes sir, I stole a fish." She peeked up at him from under her cap. His mouth curved in a slight smile.

"Have the boy treated leniently, Morgan. There are plenty of salmon in the river." He rested his hand lightly on Ailsa's trembling shoulder. If he gazed into her eyes again he would surely see through her disguise.

"No more poaching, lad." He turned on his heel, walked a few paces, paused and turned back. "Speak to my father, Morgan. A warning is all the boy needs."

He tapped the riding crop on his boots, frowned slightly, studied Ailsa for several seconds then walked slowly to the whitewashed, stone buildings on the far side of the courtyard.

A glimmer of hope flickered in Ailsa's heart. The touch of Lord Colwyn's hand on her shoulder and his comforting words calmed her worst fears. Morgan pushed her into the house shut the door. The walls closed in.

"Warning indeed," he hissed through clenched teeth. "You'll not get away with poaching while I'm gamekeeper here."

He led her through a labyrinth of passageways. Mouth watering smells drifted through an open kitchen door. Ailsa's nose twitched. Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach.

A few steps past the kitchen, she glanced into a large pantry. Shelves were laden with earthenware crocks. On the floor close by a window baskets brimmed with fruits and vegetables. Hams hung from the ceiling alongside strings of onions and dried herbs.

Staggering in Morgan's tight-fisted grasp she tried desperately to fix an escape route in her mind but terror dimmed her memory. Trapped like an animal by the gamekeeper she was hopelessly lost.

Suddenly Morgan flung open a door. Ailsa paused at the threshold of a vast, lavishly appointed rectangular hall soaring two stories high. Cherubs draped in leafy marble adorned each corner. The last light of day filtered through the beveled glass of a vestibule door. Beyond it, a brass-studded outer door stood open leading to a wide terrace.

Morgan shook her. "Move! Lord Rhadyr wants a look at you before sending you to the magistrate."

Ailsa's footsteps echoed on the white and black marble floor. Opulence surrounded her. Rich tapestries draped the walls. Burnished sconces gleamed beside closed doors. In every sconce were fresh, unlit candles. A wide carpeted staircase swept up to the second floor.

A long-case clock chimed the half-hour its brass pendulum swinging back and forth marking time. Doomed by her crime Ailsa clattered across the floor. Out of harmony with the silvery chime of the clock her last few seconds of freedom ticked away.

Morgan knocked on a door, opened it with a flourish and shoved Ailsa ahead of him. Her broken boots tangled on the thick carpet and she stumbled into the presence of Lord Rhadyr. Rigid with fear, she struggled to her feet and faced the enemy.


Sorry about the print size. This may work but I doubt it.


Anita Birt


Friday, June 18, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - and a fork in the road

Before heading for the fork in the road, a question. Did you do thirty minutes of exercise to-day and yesterday and the day before? In the National Post to-day a whole section was devoted to "Help us Strike out Strokes." Signs to save y0ur life and here they are.

Five Stroke signs. WEAKNESS.: sudden loss of strength or numbness in the face, arm or leg, even if temporary. TROUBLE SPEAKING: sudden difficulty speaking or understanding, or sudden confusion, even if temporary. VISION PROBLEMS: sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary.
HEADACHE: sudden severe and unusual headache. DIZZINESS: sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the other four signs.

Severe Classic heart attack signs. PAIN: 1) sudden discomfort or pain that doesn't go away with rest; 2) pain in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back: 3) pain that feels like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure; and 4) chest pain or discomfort that's brought on with exertion and goes way with rest. SHORTNESS OF BREATH: difficulty breathing.
NAUSEA: indigestion, vomiting. SWEATING: cool, clammy skin. In the past, some patient education materials have suggested that women experience symptoms of a heart attack quite differently from men. However, that's not really the case according to a study presented at the 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

GENDER DIFFERENCES: In women, the pain may be more vague. And woman may be more likely to have both the typical symptoms of a heart attack as well as throat, jaw and neck discomfort. But the most common symptom in women is still chest pain.

There's the health lesson for to-day. Change of focus. A Fork in The Road. Do you go left or right?

Tomorrow I shall post part of the first chapter of an unpublished historical romance of mine and see if it brings in any comments. A wandering editor perhaps!

I hope you are enjoying pleasant weather and are able to get outside to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.

Anita Birt
www.anitabirt.com

Monday, June 14, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - continued on and on ...

On being eighty seven.

I read an article recently where the words "life is not a rehearsal" jumped out at me. I Googled them and discovered the saying is not new but goes back to 2003 - that's when I stopped looking for more examples.

On being eighty seven gives me pause for thought several times a day. How did I get so old and what have I done during those eighty seven years to mark my passage through life? I'm not a brilliant writer, I am a very small frog peeping away in a huge lake filled with big frogs occupying lily pads waiting for big Momma frog to deliver them bags of royalty cheques.

Having five published romance novels pleases me. They are not and never will be on the 'best seller lists" but they are an achievement. A marker. Anita was here!

Life is not a rehearsal. Being old challenges us physically and mentally. I read somewhere that "getting old is not for the faint of heart." So how do we make our days interesting and joyful?

As for me, I blether away on this blog. I write my memories for my immediate family. I should be revising two historial romances and two contemporary romances but since my husband passed away, I have lost interest. Perhaps it's a kind of writer's block or maybe, being eighty-seven has changed my focus. I shall open one of them this evening and see what happens. Can't hurt.

Life is not a rehearsal. How many chances will I have to revise four books, finish my memories and entertain you on my blog?

I am off now. Not to walk by the sea. There's a fierce wind blowing and it's hard to walk against it.

Do leave a comment. Or am I alone rattling away to no good purpose? I'm entertaining myself! That's good for my brain.

Anita
www.anitabirt.com

MY MEMORY PROJECT - continued to the end of time

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - continued

Is there anyone out there? I'm getting some hits on my blog but no comments or e-mails. From what I read in the newspapers, we old folk have become interested in computers and use them for different purposes.

So, who are you? Senior citizens? Aged folk? Curmudgeons? Are you taking lessons in something, i.e, German, flamenco dancing, creative writing classes? There are opportunities galore if you live in a town or city. With a computer you can investigate the world libraries and download e-books, like mine!

What are you reading? I am reading Hilary Martel's fabulous book, Wolf Hall. It is a page turner about the life of Thomas Cromwell. It's a physically heavy book and I need something thinner for reading in bed. Reginald Hill, the British crime writer is one of my favourites. Problem is, putting the book aside and turning out the light and going to sleep. I am a disciplined person and I need my sleep.

A promo for one of my romance novels. ISABELLE'S DIARY. It's a contemporary romance with a mysterious ghost - or was it a ghost? Can a ghost appear in broad daylight in a cafe in the Welsh town of Llandrindod Wells? Go to my web site, www.anitabirt.com to read an excerpt and check out my other books.

I visited my Franciscan friends at Bridal Veil, Oregon, last week-end. You can find my book, THE HOUSE AT BRIDAL VEIL, second hand at Amazon.con or ABEbooks. It's on my web site as well.

Enjoy your days and leave a comment so I know I am not alone in the universe.

Anita Birt

Thursday, June 10, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - continued

I've been to Bridal Veil, Oregon and returned home on Monday - totally exhausted. I swear it's a mile to walk from the check-in at Portland to where Air Canada is situated. Worse than that was winding my way through the horror of Vancouver Airport. Is any airport friendly to passengers? Don't answer!

Aquarius. My horoscope for to-day, Thursday, June 10th. "The pen is mightier than the sword. True or false? It will certainly be true to-day as communications planet Mercy moves into the most dynamic area of your chart. Broadcast your vision to the world."

I wish. Anyone got any bright ideas to broadcast? Please send them to me at: anita.birt@gmail.com and I shall add them to this brilliant blog and credit your genius.

Canada is celebrating the Royal Canadian Navy's one hundred years of service. There's a huge party building right here in Victoria. Navy ships from New Zealand and Australia (our sister Commonwealth countries) Japan, France and our friendly neighbour, The United States. The USS Ronald Reagan has been lying at anchor outside the harbour at Esquimalt, the navy depot - not quite enough room for all the ships.

Tomorrow our Royal Canadian Airforce "Snow Birds" will be flying over. There'll be fireworks at night. A huge parade downtown and more.

Breaking news. The Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay this evening. Yeh.

Walking for 30 minutes a day can help reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes. What are you waiting for? I walked 2000 metres this morning - that's one mile and a quarter. Not bad for an old dame. What did you do to-day? I'd love to hear from you. Is anyone out there? Are there no old people willing to talk about themselves. What makes your life interesting? Am I talking to myself?

Anita Birt
www.anitabirt.com

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MY MEMORY PROJECT - continued

It's June 2nd and I'm off to Portland, Oregon tomorrow to visit my Franciscan friends at Bridal Veil. I'll return home on Monday afternoon. I'm taking some of my husband's ashes to sprinkle on the grounds at Bridal Veil. My husband loved the place and loved the Franciscan Sisters of The Eucharist, our dear friends. Another friend, Father Craig Boly SJ will say mass. It's ages since I've been to Bridal Veil. Craig was a student of mine many, many years ago when he was studying at Regis College in Toronto.

My book, The House at Bridal Veil was published in 1992 byBinford and Mort, Portland, OR. My book is available - used copies - at Amazon.com and ABE books. An inspirational read about a small group of amazing women, Franciscan Sisters, who reclaimed a run down old mansion on the Columbia River and through hard work and devoted friends, brought it back to life. It's worth a visit if you are in the area.

Back to more mundane matters. An article in the National Post caught my eye. Do not call us "seniors." Please call us "elders." Hmm. Sounds as if we have much wisdom to pass along. Some of us may have but some of us have lived humdrum lives, married, worked, raised a family, retired and, if blessed with reasonable health. will enjoy those sunshine years.

Humddrum? Seems to me we have something to say about commitment and loving and being there when times are tough. Care to comment.

I'm going to do some self promotion about my books. This time my time travel, Ring Around The Moon. My time travel is different My hero, Alan Tremaine, comes from two hundreds years in the past to the present time. This causes enormous problems for my American heroine, Beth Ormond. She rented Quest cottage in Cornwall for a month of R&R. Alan is sure she is his wife Elizabeth who lost her life when their home burned to the ground and has now returned to him.

Quest cottage was built on the foundation stones of Alan's ruined home. Imagine the problems facing a man from the past. He doesn't have a modern identity and all that entails. Check out my web site, www.anitabirt.com for an excerpt about my book and how to purchase it.

On my last royalty cheque, three of my books were downloaded to Kindles, one to Ipod and another to Createspace. Very interesting. I'm hoping for more sales. That's a pitch! Others of my books are pirated on various sites where my books are given awayfree and I, the hard working writer, are cheated of my royalties.

Thanks for dropping by. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined. I shall return.

Anita Birt
www.anitabirtcom