Monday, December 10, 2007

Anita Birt, Isabelle's Diary AND Silent Night

I'm delighted to have Anita Birt as my guest author today. She was gracious enough to answer my questions at this busy, busy time of year. So let us jump in and get to know her before we talk about her book, Isabelle's Diary.
1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change? I'd start when I was thirty.
2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer? Don't quit. Your next manuscript might sell or the next one … Nora Roberts said, "You can fix your writing but you can't fix a blank page." Write on! And remember it's hard work.
3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Tom Wolfe. He's a wonderful writer and I adore the way he dresses in white suits, etc. Elegant man.
4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? Sherlock Holmes
5) What do you want to be when you grow up? Acclaimed writer and failing that, a pleasant dear old dame adored by family and friends for her wit and good humor.
6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for? I don't think anyone will remember me and that's okay. I'm living in the present and the future can take care of itself.

Isabelle's Diary by Anita Birt from Cerridwen Press

I have been extraordinarily pleased with the books I've been privileged to read during my stint as a mini-reviewer. Isabelle's Diary was a gentle, romantic love story that left me wishing it wasn't quite over. And according to Anita, there is a follow-up book, Isabelle's Story, coming December 27 from Cerridwen Press. I will curb my impatience--barely.
Isabelle's Diary is the story of Sally, a Canadian in Wales on holiday. Near the end of her stay, while enjoying a break at a coffee shop, she notices a young woman dressed in Victorian clothing sitting at a table in the corner reading a diary and weeping. It turns out that the young woman is Isabelle, a ghost.
Sally is a pragmatic woman in her forties, recently dumped by her husband for a very young woman. She's not inclined to flights of fancy, particularly ghosts, so she finds the entire episode very disturbing. When she tries to find out more about her ghost she is referred to a local doctor, Dan Conway.
Over the next few days as they follow clues and find dead-ends, they fall in love. But our hero and heroine have both suffered hurts in the past and they aren't inclined to leap into a permanent relationship blindly. The story of how they finally discover what happened to Isabelle and how they found the courage to grasp their own happiness is wonderful. You may be sure that two days after Christmas I will be first in line to buy Isabelle's Story.
In the meantime, go at once to Cerridwen Press and get your own copy of Isabelle's Diary by Anita Birt.

Silent Night

Christmas 1956. I was seven years old that Christmas that I played Silent Night as part of the Christmas Pageant. I had been taking piano lessons for six months, practicing on the old beat up upright piano in our living room. We lived in a small town in Arizona where my father was the pastor of the church we attended. He also worked full-time in a copper mine about forty miles away. Every day he traveled to work on a narrow two lane curvy, hilly road.

He was a lineman, stringing wire underground for the communication system. One day he fell from an underground pole and broke his back. Considering the state of medicine back in that day, it's a miracle that he ever walked again. I still have pictures of him in his body cast that made him look twice as big around.

Anyway, our church had a Christmas Pageant. It had the usual cast of suspects. Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and the Angels. My baby doll was the baby Jesus. I wasn't very happy about that because one of the Shepherds decided to play catch with one of the Wise Men and they used my dolly's head for their ball.

In an effort to defuse my understandable wrath at this abuse of my dolly, Mrs. Jones, the Pageant director made an on the spot decision that I would play Silent Night on the piano while the Angels tiptoed up the aisles, toting lighted candles, on their way to sing Hark the Herald Angel Sings.

It might have worked out that way, too, except that I couldn't see the sheet music in the dark, I couldn't reach the pedals on the piano so it sounded more like a choppy march, and I played it so slow that the Angels could have crawled up the aisles and still reached the stage before I finished. Since the Angels were all from the primary grades and were hopped up on all the sugar from candy canes and cookies, Mrs. Jones had to devise a new plan.

After some reworking, she finally determined that I would play Silent Night while the Shepherds trudged slowly up the aisle carrying their stuffed toy sheep. And then there would still be time for the Wise Men to traipse up the aisle, swaying to and fro like they were riding camels.

The night of the Pageant arrived. I had a new red plaid taffeta dress that my mother made. She made all of our clothes because she could sew like a wizard on that old Singer treadle sewing machine. My mother was a crafty woman. She made all the Angels' wings and most of the costumes.

When it was time for me to play, I pranced up to the piano like I was a movie star, flounced onto the piano stool and ponderously pounded out my rendition of Silent Night. The Shepherds and Wise Men did their part, but still arrived at the stage before I was half-way through.

When I finished the congregation stood up and clapped wildly. Looking back on it, I think they were incredibly relieved that I finally finished. I do know that was the last time I was asked to play anything in that church. That's okay. I certainly had my one night as a Christmas Star.


12 Days of Romance – Day Three! Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? Of course you do. If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to mailto:anny@annycook.comwith 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners.

The prizes –1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books.

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan's Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy's Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Don't forget to stop by Kelly's blog at to catch the latest on the Saga. And then pop over to see the Amarinda Report at Blessings on your day!


  1. I like the sound of Sally and Doctor Dan.

    And you play the piano too? What other hidden talents lurk? Do you tap dancer? Juggle? Play the sponons?

  2. AJ, that was fifty years ago. A psaltery is more my speed now. Hope I get one for Christmas. Hint, hint to the house hunk.

  3. a what? "psaltery" - that something you put in pasta?

  4. Anny I can just see you yelling at the little boys who played ball with your doll, and I can imagine you sitting proud and scared to play piano in front of the church congragation. What lovely memmories.

  5. Yeah, but can you reach the pedals now? I probably couldn't!

    Anita, lovely answers, and I'm greatly looking forward to Isabelle's Story!

  6. Excellent blog! I have loved the Isabelle excerpts from the beginning and then to not only get more but laugh over the potentially crawling wise men cracked me up. Thank you for that.

  7. Great interview and blog per usual. Isabelle's Diary sounds very intriguing.

  8. Great interview, Anita. Anita's Diary sounds like a great book. Adding to list...

    Anny - I had to laugh about the boys being horrid with your doll. It's the sort of thing my brother and cousins did to me. Boys are the same everywhere!

  9. Great interview and wonderful story, Anny and Anita.

    I always look forward to reading your blog, Anny.