Sunday, May 31, 2020

Congrats to Space X!

In 1972, I was four years old, but I think that’s where my love of space began. I want to say I vaguely remember seeing/hearing about the Apollo missions – going to the moon!!  How was that possible? We went to the moon!! 

At the time, I didn’t realize Apollo 17, which launched in DEC 1972 would be the last time we went to the moon. I just remember images – the lunar rover, the men in suits, the rocks. I also remember the feeling – awe.  I just sat in front of the TV mesmerized. 

I remember going to the library and signing out a ton of books about space.  Of course, my favorite books were about the planets. I love science fiction.  Star Trek was one of my favorite shows.  I loved Spock!! I’m not really sure why I love all things “space,” maybe because it taps into the ultimate imagination gene. You can imagine anything about space. You can explore like Star Trek, you can fight, like Star Wars, or you can let your creativity grow by taking pictures of the planets.

I remember where I was when the first manned Space Shuttle flight took off. I was in my 7th grade science class.  It was 12 April 1981. My teacher brought in a TV and we watched the flight live.  I was the geek mesmerized by the TV. So, when I went to high school it was only natural I took all the Astronomy classes they had to offer.

My Astronomy teacher was a great guy.  He took me to Boston to see Carl Sagan lecture. It was all about the night sky in high school, telescopes and freeing the imagination. There were more than the planets. My teacher, Robert Veilleux, was one of the 114 semi finalists selected for the Teachers in Space program in 1985. When Christa McAuliffe was selected, my high school (Central High, Manchester NH) was electrified.  I still cry to this day when I think of the Space Shuttle Challenger. 

I think going to space is important because it stimulates, the mind, the imagination, the creativity, and ambition of everyone involved.  It challenges us to think outside of the box to solve problems to go to places that are near impossible. I was so bummed to hear the last Shuttle mission was in 2011. 

Then came Elon Musk and Space X.  And I was excited about Space again.

Space X is something special. It’s a civilian business, not a government run one.  Space X was founded in 2002 and most of its facilities are in southern California. It received a permit in 2014 to  build a 4th launch site  (commercial only) in Brownsville, Texas.  

The Falcon 9 is a medium lift rocket which is reusable.  So are the Dragon capsules. It’s the reusability factor which allows Space X to be competitive. 

I’m so excited about today’s launch. America is back in space and it feels right. 

Question for you: What’s your first memory of America and space?


Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Her story, “First Flag of New Hampshire” takes the reader on a journey with Aly and Miguel to find the missing flag. It’s available through 4RV Publishing. You can also find it on Amazon in paperback and as an ebook. 


Monday, May 25, 2020

Honoring Memorial Day during a Pandemic

Memorial Day Thoughts for 2020

A lot of citizens think of Memorial Day as the informal start to the summer. They make plans to visit the beach, the lake, and plan an awesome BBQ meal. As a veteran, Memorial Day holds a more solemn meaning in my heart, and this year we’re all challenged to find the appropriate way to celebrate while social distancing.

Memorial Day was known as Dedication Day and born out of the ashes of the Civil War. Waterloo, New York is considered the birthplace of the holiday. In 1866, several citizens got together and decorated the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers and flags. They also honored their war dead with a moment of silence. Soon after, parades became a staple of the holiday. It’s also a tradition to lower the flag to half-staff to honor the war dead.

 After World War I, these traditions expanded to include all of the war dead from all wars.  I tried to do some research on the 1919 Memorial Day (then known as Dedication Day) while the Spanish Flu was ravaging the world, but my research was spotty.  Several towns continued to hold their Decoration Day parades to honor their war dead and veterans. The Ironton Lawrence County parade was held that year (as reported in the Daily Dispatch out of Huntington WV). There were 2,400 people in attendance and “full honor was paid to the soldier boys, living and dead…”

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson changed the name from Decoration Day to Memorial Day and it was finally recognized as a federal holiday in 1971. 
Joe's Cub Scout Pack, Joe is the last one on the right
Both my boys have been active in the Scouts BSA program. Since 2007, when my oldest was a tiger cub, his Cub Scout Pack would coordinate with the local cemetery to place flags on the graves of veterans to honor Memorial Day.  They’d get dressed up in their scouting uniforms and place the flags with their adult leaders assisting. I thought it was a great way to not only teach, but honor those who had served their county.

This year Scouts BSA is unable to hold such an event due to the pandemic involving COVID 19. So what can we do to honor the holiday in 2020? 

I have to work half the day, but before I go to work, I’m planning on flying my flag and I’m going to get a plant from Home Depot. I’ll be planting my plant in the front yard when I get home after I change into an Old Navy flag shirt, flying my flag, and offering a moment silence at my house in honor of my Uncle Harold who fought in World War II before I start my BBQ.  Uncle Harold recently passed away in Massachusetts, so while I can’t be there, I hope to hold him close to my heart here in California. I’ll have my boys help me plant my plant. 

If you have a loved one you’d like to honor at a nearby cemetery, I might suggest reaching out to the cemetery and finding out what their guidance is; will they allow you to visit? Decorate a grave with flowers or a flag? If not, maybe set aside in your yard or a use a planter to plant a small plant/flower and place a flag. You could put it on your balcony.  YouTube is a great source to find out more information about the holiday or even pull up an old parade. And when you’re ready to BBQ in your backyard, maybe you could play some patriotic songs? Suggestions, only. 

Here’s a fun video geared for younger kids about Memorial Day: 

Question for you: How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? 

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Her story, "First Flag of New Hampshire," is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon.  Can Aly and Miguel find the missing flag for their history assignment? 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

An American Hero

Post #2 of Memorial Day Weekend 2020

Losing a loved one while they are in the military on active duty can be heartbreaking. And it was heartbreaking for the thousands of civilians who lost loved ones in the Civil War. One of the ways to find comfort is to lay flowers or flags on the graves of those who gave their life in service to this country. The citizens of Waterloo, NY in 1866 are generally credited for the beginning of a tradition that eventually led to Memorial Day.  Wanting to honor their Civil War dead, they decorated those graves with flowers, flags, and offered a moment of silence.  Originally known as “Decoration Day,” the name was changed to Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966.  Nowadays, Memorial Day doesn’t just honor those who gave their lives in the Civil War, but in all the wars that the United States has been involved in.

So much has been written about World War II, but I didn’t know very many personal stories.  I knew my Grandpa had been in the war, but honestly, I don’t know his story.  He passed away when I was 15 and I never really got to ask him about it. My husband’s grandfather was in the Navy in the Pacific. I always knew my Uncle Harold had been in the war, but I don’t remember him really telling me tales about his experiences. I remember when I visited him in 1991 with my husband, we brought an old WW II map we found in the basement of the Bad Hersfeld police station and he appreciated it.  He told us some of the places he went to, but he didn’t tell me any real stories.  If he did, it’s my fault I don’t remember them.  I do remember he was proud of my service in my military.  It was unspoken.  It was his knowing smile, his questions, and his curiosity about what Germany was like that communicated his approval to me. (I was stationed in Germany from 1986-88 and 1989-1992, 40 years after he left.)

My Uncle Harold was drafted into the Army National Guard in 1942 and in February 1944 he was sent to Britain. He landed on Omaha Beach on 10 June 1944. He was an Engineer (30th Infantry Division, 105thCombat Engineers) and an expert on the Browning 50 Cal machine gun. His troop was involved in the Battle of Bulge and his unit was one of the first ones to enter Holland and Belgium. He liberated two or three concentration camps to include Buchenwald. My husband and I visited Buchenwald in 1990, 45 years after he liberated it! He was 22 years old in World War II. Shortly after arriving on Omaha Beach, he broke down, but pushed past his fear.  Once he was battle hardened he said, “As time goes on, you get to be a zombie. You’ve had no sleep, you’re tired, and things don’t worry you as much as they did at the start.” 
Harold Williams

For his heroic actions, Uncle Harold was awarded the Legion of Honor from the French Government at the age of 91 in 2013. I wish I had been there to see that. He passed away in July 2018. On Memorial Day this year, I’m going to place my flag on my house and honor him with a moment of silence before I go to work, because even now that I’m no longer in the military, his courage and bravery still inspire me. 


Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher with LAPD.  She served in the US Army from 1986-1997. Her Uncle Harold served from 1942-1945. She is a Children’s book author published with 4RV Publishing.  Her book, “First Flag of New Hampshire” is available in Kindle and as a paperback from 4RV Publishing.  

Check out the video for the book here:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend 2020: Book Review for Killing England

Blogger's Note: It's time to restart my Blog! I know it's been a while and I apologize.  I've been very busy with my job (911 dispatcher for LAPD) and dedicating my spare time to assisting my sons' Boy Scout troop as an adult leader.  But 2020 is a time of change and I can now, slowly, start to dedicate some of spare time to my writing and my own projects.  My oldest son is graduating high school and is an Eagle Scout.  My younger son is moving onto high school from middle school.  Both did well with their distance learning challenges. 

Thoughts on COVID 19:  I think I would be neglectful if I didn't mention that "Safer at home" orders and COVID 19 have effected us and our communities this year. We are just now starting to reopen our communities as the curve has flattened. It's been a challenging time for us. Thank you for picking my blog up, after months of neglect and giving me a chance. Going forward, I'll be sharing some of my COVID frustration, my highs and my lows, and sharing ideas to keep it positive going forward. 

As I've picked Memorial Day weekend to jump start my blog, this weekend's focus will have a military focus.  Today, I'm sharing my book review for "Killing England" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.   I hope to have a new Memorial Day essay for you soon and a look a military hero. 

I'd like to rededicate my blog to my writing (so you'll see little blurbs about my books and writing projects), what's going on in my spare time, my likes, my dislikes, my weight loss journey, my thoughts on the year 2020, exploring my neighborhood, and maybe work, but let me tell you, being a 911 dispatcher is not that exciting. At least, I don't think so. I think to be a 911 dispatcher, you have to be a "jack of all trades" and I'll find that a re-occuring theme going forward. 

For all those who have lost family members to military service, from World War II to our time in Afghanistan and Iraq, my heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with you.  

Engrossing! I couldn’t put it down! 
 Book Review: Killing England
Written by: Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Published by: Henry Holt/Macmillian
ISBN: 978-1-62779-0642
I read: The hardback

5 Stars

O’Reilly and Dugard pen a comprehensive tale of hardship, perseverance, and determination with “Killing England.” The revolution set America on its own course, that’s unfortunately, given a dry treatment in the US History books. Not so with O’Reilly and Dugard.  Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson come alive as real people, their flaws exposed and raw; their strengths – amazing and almost superhuman. 

One of the main causes of the American Revolution is “taxation without representation,” yet it’s made clear the Americans are subjects to the British, meant to support the elite, and that won’t do. O’Reilly and Dugard give the events that led up to the start of the war a fresh look with anecdotes that have been lost to time. 

Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and other key figures such as George III, Cornwallis, Marquis de La Fayette and Prussian general Von Stuben are portrayed as real people. Their personalities shine and give rise to the birth of a nation. 

The writing is easy to read. The reader will learn a lot about the American Revolution including how the battles were fought, Washington’s courage, Franklin’s patience, and Jefferson’s loyalty. There’s always a new fascinating, historical tidbit to discover. “Killing England” is a griping read that will have the reader turning the pages to discover yet another historical nugget lost to time. It’s raw, it’s surprising, it’s gritty, it’s war. And O’Reilly and Dugard hold no punches. I highly recommend this book. 

It’s the start of the school year, and Alyssa has to take American Studies for college prep. She’s paired with classmate Miguel De Soto to find the first flag of New Hampshire, but the flag has only flown four times in New Hampshire’s past. Can Alyssa and Miguel track the flag through history before time is up?

First Flag of New Hampshire is available from 4RV Publishing on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the 4RV Publishing website as a paperback and Kindle book. 


Amazon Link:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

New Release! Mr. Christmas Elf : Sweet Contemporary Romance

Christmas is on the way, but Jules isn’t in the mood this year. She and her dad are barely making ends meet, and with extra bills piling up, how can they afford Christmas? Jules needs a new muffler for her car, and school tuition is looming—but the peppermint on top? Her boyfriend has just dumped her in a text message! 

When her boss at the coffee shop insists that all employees must write a letter to Santa and post it on the window, Jules decides to be painfully honest about what she needs—but is there any hope she will get it? 

When Elvis, a handsome hunk, shows up to visit with her about her car muffler, she begins to have an inkling of hope that this Christmas will be one to remember, after all. Claiming to be one of Santa’s elves, Elvis tells her all the magic the Christmas season has to offer can be hers, if she only believes. Is that too much to ask for?


     "Come on, Jules, write your Christmas list, or I'll dock your pay another thirty minutes." 
     "Why do you have to bully me, Joe? It's a depressing list."
     "It's Christmas, and no one disappoints my Sally on Christmas."
     Yeah, I'd feel bad if I let Sally down, too. 
     I wrote: 

Dear Santa, 
I need a new muffler, a hundred bucks to pay off my root canal, cigars for my dad, a lottery scratcher, and a new boyfriend. P.S. I'm praying for world peace too, especially on Christmas. 
Love, Jules. 

     I thought I'd throw the scratcher in there for a giggle. Hey, it's affordable. I probably won't win anything, but you never know.

Buy Link:

Saturday, October 20, 2018

New Release in time for Halloween! Night of Magic with Prairie Rose Publishing.

Night of Magic…Samhain—Dark…Dangerous…Powerful…The year is 800 A.D. on the Emerald Isle, and Prince Jasper is determined to regain that which has been lost to him.

Five years past, Princess Aithne was taken from her father, Prince Jasper, by the forces of the Other World. On Samhain, the veil between the worlds is thin, and can be breeched more readily—especially if one walks amid the ceremonial bonfires.

When Princess Aithne disappears, her father vows every year to bring her back. He tempts many champions with a chest of gold, but only one man can succeed.

 This year, Finn is determined to lay claim to that treasure, but to do so, he must tempt Fate. Will he survive his journey to the Other World to bring the princess back? Will he dare follow his heart? Or will greed determine what lies in store for him on this NIGHT OF MAGIC?


     "Darkness is coming."

     Finn Breifne sat on the bed polishing his sword. Glancing up at his friend, Kellis, he winked. "I know it is."

     Kellis walked to the window and drew back the drapes, gazing onto the open field. The sun dipped below the horizon casting deep orange, rust, and grey shadows over the land.

     Finn continued with his task. He was the finest fighter this side of the isle, and he wasn't prepared to shy away from the prince's challenge.

     Samhain marked the start of the darker half of the year. The people in this part of the country celebrated with a festival of the dead. Every night for a week there was drinking, whoring, and bonfires. Cows walked between roaring pyres of fire as part of a crazy cleansing ritual. The boundaries between this world and the dark, mystical world of spirits were considerably weaker on this eve, the high night of Samhain.

     Finn didn't believe in magic or gods. He was here for one thing – to collect the nobleman's daughter. Upon her safe return, the prince would give him a chest full of gold and silver. He'd grown up poor, and was sick of living from town to town scraping by as a sellsword. Now, he was going to do something for himself. Was he greedy? Some might think so, but Finn was tired of wandering and he wanted a better life. He wanted to find a wife, raise a family, and not worry about finding work to support them.

     Kellis turned away from the window. "The prince just arrived. They're goin’ to light the bonfire."
Finn stood. "Good." He sheathed his sword, forged out of the finest steel by one of the best blacksmiths in Dublin. He tightened the laces on his sheepskin boots and walked to the table before the mirror. Picking up his dagger, he tucked it into the holder on his belt.

Amazon Link:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Review: When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen

Book Review for:  When You Give a Duke a Diamond
Written by: Shana Galen
Amazon ASIN: B008BWAD6U
Published by: Sourcebooks

5 Stars

I read: the ebook

Dazzling with Diamonds, Full of Heart

Galen crafts a romance filled with suspense, danger, and heart with “When You Give a Duke a Diamond.” Juliette, aka the “Duchess of Dalliance,” is a courtesan during the heyday of the ton. Christened  the “Duchess of Dalliance” by Prinny himself, the gossip around the ton is that she’s  having an affair with the Duke of Pelham, a man who is always on time and stanchly set in his ways. He’d never go to bed with a courtesan.

Pelham, aka “Will” and Juliette are thrown into each other’s path when Lucifer shoots at Juliette. Lucifer believes Juliette has his stolen diamonds. Pelham is forced to keep Juliette safe, and in doing so, discovers he wants to find out the mystery behind the missing jewels and why Lucifer would go after Juliette.

They escape to York to avoid danger and Juliette manages to bring out Will’s softer side. As the Duke begins to fall in love, will legitimate danger, or those pesky conventional norms of the ton keep him from publically admitting his love for Juliette?

Shana Galen is one of my favorite romance authors. Her writing style is enjoyable. Her characters are sharp, witty, and infused with heart. Pelham is rough around the edges and it’s endearing to watch Juliette soften him. The danger and suspense never let up, and I hated it when I had to put the story down. Juliette is a capable heroine, not afraid to confront conflict. She’s appeals to modern norms while retaining regency charm. The love scenes are mainstream and tasteful.

Overall, “When You Give a Duke a Diamond,” is a delicious escape to another time and place, full of nail-biting suspense and heartwarming moments. It’s a romance that will touch your heart and leave wanting to read the next book in the series.

Question:  What is your favorite genre of romance do you like to read?