A Gentleman and a Rogue

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome LK Hunsaker - Author of "Off The Moon"


Hi all - I just want to welcome author LK Hunsaker and her new release, "Off The Moon." I've known LK for a couple of years now and I've had an opportunity to read her book "Rehearsal." She's here today to talk about her new book. Her main character is a rock star, "Riveting" Ryan Reynauld and in this blog spot, he's being interviewed by "AK Avoxx." Enjoy! Steph

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Hello! Today I’m welcoming back my celebrity reporter, AK Avoxx. He’s managed to not only get the infamous Ryan Reynauld on the interview block again, but also his bodyguard Fred Dawson, better known as Daws. I hear he had an interesting time juggling both together, especially as Daws is not known for talking to reporters other than to tell them to back off. Take it away, AK!

AK: Ryan? Wait, Ryan! Can I catch up with you again for a minute?

RR: Hey AK, I’m kinda in a hurry. Schedule with my publicist..

AK: I was just talking with Ned and thought I’d bounce what he said off you.

RR: (turns) Ned? (note a slight eye rolling) Why?

AK: Happened to run into him and he was glad to talk.

RR: Yeah, I’m sure he was. What do I have to argue this time?

AK: Other than comparing you to a baby kitten, he actually focused a lot on the respect he has for you.

RR: (throws a glance at Daws when he chuckles) Uh huh, sorry, I have to run and I’ll talk to my drummer about the kitten comment. You could maybe not print it.

AK: Tell you what. I won’t print it if you’ll give me a few minutes.

Daws: Sounds like blackmail.

AK: Not at all. Only an offer. So what’s with the girl? The one usually by your side now?

Daws: No comment. As he said, he has a schedule to keep. (starts pushing Ryan along)

AK: Hear she’s related. (moves around in front of Ryan, pushing his luck with Daws) That true?

RR: How about we talk about the new album? Isn’t that what people want to hear? Do that and I’ll give you a few minutes.

Daws: Reynauld, you’re already late. We gotta get moving.

RR: Yeah so they’ll deal with it. (eyes AK) Work for you?

AK: Guess if that’s my only option. So how’s it coming along?

RR: Like pouring molasses with a hangover, thanks for asking.

Daws: Don’t print that.

RR: Why? It’s truth, but it’ll come along as always.

Daws: It would come along faster if you would get to the studio and quit jabbing.

RR: Hey, I made a deal with the man.

Daws: And you like to hear your own voice. One minute, Reynauld. Only one.

RR: (grins and returns to AK) What else did you want to know about it?

AK: Is the girl hanging around slowing your progress?

RR: Has a girl ever slowed my progress? (shrugs with a grin) Have a dozen girls at a time slowed my progess?

Daws: Reynauld. You want him to print that?

RR: Why not?

Daws: Give the man something he can use and let’s go.

RR: All right, don’t get your shorts in a knot. (ignores a glare from his guard) The album. No title yet. Still floating a few songs around we’re unsure about. But we’re in the studio a lot so there is some progress. It should work out to something buyable.

AK: Should?

Daws: It’s coming along well. You know he doesn’t talk up his own music.

AK: So how about you share more since he doesn’t say much about his works in progress?

Daws: As always, good songs, deeper meaning than most bother to get, and Mac’s producing again. The songs are floating around because they’re all recordable. It’s a matter of choosing which to put on this one.

RR: How about you two sit here and chat and I’ll go on to work?

Daws: (grabs Ryan’s arm as he turns) Try your own version of that instead of making it sound unbuyable, which Patricia will not appreciate, by the way.

RR: So it’ll give her a challenge.

Daws: You give her enough challenge. And everyone else, too.

AK: Speaking of, what was that stunt about the other day? With the girl and window ledge? Actually a stunt or more than that?

RR: Hey, didya see the press I got from it? Well worth the fine. Might have to try it again in some way, or something as spectacular. Sure beat my impromptu bridge concert. Nice fine on that one, too. Didn’t expect people to stop driving!

AK: Traffic jam for two hours. I’m sure that was a good fine. Next time you plan a stunt, give me a call, would you?

RR: Hey, you know they aren’t planned in advance. They just kinda happen last minute. More fun that way. I’m sure something else will come up soon if you wanna keep tailing me.

Daws: (shakes his head) I have to find a better job.

RR: Yeah, you know I keep you from getting bored. (shoves his arm) Been more than a minute, I think.

Daws: Well over.

AK: So you’re really giving me nothing at all about the girl living with you?

RR: Well, for the record..

Daws: Reynauld, no comment. That’s all you need to say.

RR: No, I have to say this. She’s staying at my place, not living with me. In the spare room. Not mine. And that’s all I’m saying at this point.

AK: At this point? So possibly…

RR: Hey, if I decide to say more, I’ll have Patricia give you a call. But I gotta go.

AK: Thanks for your time and I’ll wait on that phone call. (watches Daws push Ryan through the crowd of girls that had formed around them during the interview) There you have it, straight from the kitten’s mouth. A possibly buyable album slowly on the way and a girl in the spare room. There has to be a better story behind all of that.


Author note: the interview with Ned (Ryan’s drummer) is here in order to understand the kitten reference if you missed it: http://www.elaineforlife.com/LaineysBlog/tabid/463/EntryId/144/OFF-THE-MOON.aspx

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Buy Link for Off the Moon :
http://www.elucidatepublishing.net/books.html

Off The Moon website:
http://www.lkhunsaker.com/OffTheMoon/main.html

Also, be sure to check my blog for novel-related features. I have an interview with NYC drummer Gino Scalmato up, as well as an interview with singer/songwriter Vicki Blankenship. More to come! http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com


Off The Moon
LK Hunsaker

"Riveting" Ryan Reynauld is immersed in a world of music, parties, and temporary companionship. Having risen to the top of the pop charts, his biggest concern is objecting to the way his music is produced. That is, until he finds a young woman standing on a window ledge. Against the advice of family and friends, and through media attacks and fan protests, Ryan determines to care for her himself, making a promise that threatens to destroy his career.

Convincing the skittish girl she can learn to trust again comes with a steep price. Sometimes the path to recovery begins by allowing your world to implode.

Elucidate Publishing
November 2009
Print ISBN 978-0-9825299-0-4
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9825299-1-1

Also available to order from your local bookstore or to request from your library. Will be at all major US and UK online bookstores around the end of December.


Thanks for letting me chat here today, Steph!

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Next up— Off The Moon: The Inside Scoop, hosted by The Pen Muse, Dec 1
http://www.thepenmuse.com/

The full tour itinerary is available at http://www.classicromancerevival.com

Don't forget to leave your comments! One person from each blog will be drawn to receive a signed, mailed copy of the short story LK has written as a bit of a prequel to Off The Moon, called Toward The Sky, plus there will be a signed print book drawing for anyone who comments on at least 8 blogs! Winners will be posted at http://www.classicromancerevival.com/blog/?p=1520

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week 4 NaNoWriMo Update! Finished!


It's week 4 of NaNoWriMo and as I write this, there are only 2 more days to finish your novel. While I'm not entirely done, I did finish 50K words so I'm a THRILLED. It wasn't an easy journey for me and I knew when I signed up in October that it would be challengeing to say the least. It would be challeging because:

#1 - I work full time from 6 pm to 2 am
#2 - I have a 3 year old
#3 - I still have a house to take care of, dishes to wash, clothes to clean, vacuming, etc

To prepare - and I did prepare, I picked a project I knew I was ready to write, "The Count's Lair." This is a paranormal romance which is the sequel to "The Hungarian." (which will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in May 2010.) I had the plot roughly outlined, I'd done my research about Budapest, and 1901, and I had done background sheets on my main characters, "Anton and Amelia." All I had to do come Nov 1st was sit down and write.

Nov 1 hit and I was already 6K words into the project, but then real life hit, too. I worked, I hung out with my 3 year old, I did the dishes. If I wasn't doing that, I was writing. It was challenging. I wrote during times of the day I don't usually write.

One thing that really helped was going to the It's A Grind coffeeshop on Tues and Thurs and meeting up with my writing buddy, Jen. I did sign up under the LA chapter on the official site but I wouldn't travel all the way down to LA so Jen and I set up our own support writing group. It was great. I just want to give a shout out to Jen and her encouragment. She's fantastic!

Yesterday, I finished and posted my 50K words. It was very rewarding to hit the big 50K. The novel is just over a 1/2 done. Now I can finish it at a more leisurely pace. I can also get back to some things I've neglected like my book reading, my review reading and a couple of blog posts for other blogs I'd like to do.

I just want to thank everyone for their support - especially Jen & Gail from Desert Breeze. And I saw Vivian from 4RV pop in as well. Thank you. Your encouragment as meant a lot to me. I'd also like to give a shout out to my at work editor, Kathy Kravitz who has a bead on my characters just like I do.

Look for my blog to get a little more loving care for me. I also put off my official Nov newsletter, but I'll be back in December.

Here's the blurb for NaNoWriMo novel:
Can a man haunted by an ancient curse fall in love? That’s what Count Anton Varga dares to explore when he meets beautiful and talented Lady Amelia Andrássy. Anton rediscovers Amelia in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, giving a concert and he hungers to pursue her, only he has a secret which he fears she will not accept. With the help and support of his friend and servant, Georg, Anton decides to win Amelia’s heart. Will the journey bring him the love he’s hungered for, or will it tear his heart apart?




Here's a small excerpt from the novel. It's under contract to Desert Breeze so I'm very excited to have given the project a good start. Anton is taking Amelia to the Kris Kringle (Christmas) markets in downtown Budapest. Enjoy!

The auto entered the Pest side of the city. Her eyes darted to the window, afraid to meet his, not daring to release a firestorm between them. People darted along the street, all dressed in thick winter coats. It was then she realized that Anton wore a light overcoat. She reached out, grasping his hand. He was unusually warm.

He smiled at her. “Are you cold?”

“A little. The auto’s warm enough, but you’re hot.”

“I suppose I am.”

“Why is that?”

He pursed his lips, as if uncomfortable with her question. “My temperature is a little higher than most.”

“How can that be?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Complicated?” she questioned.

“Unbelievable, almost.”

“I’d like to know if you want to tell me.”

His eyes softened to an almost cerulean shade of blue. The auto came to a stop. Anton directed his attention toward the driver.

“Bela, meet us here in two hours.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

Anton opened the door for Amelia. She slid out of the auto and put her gloves back on. Amelia noticed Anton didn’t wear gloves, and he didn’t have his scarf around his neck. He fell into an easy pace beside her as they navigated down a busy street, surrounded by people heading toward the Kris Kringle markets like they were.

He stiffened a little as he faced her. “I’m not proud of my actions. This is not something I find easy to talk about,” he said finally.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday's Writing Tip - Dialogue



So what does today's picture have to do with writing tips, specifically, dialogue? Not much. I just thought I'd share it. This is a pic from back "home," in New England. This is what autumn looks like when it gets closer to Dec. 21 and the start of winter - cold, foggy, gray, and a little dull.

Dialogue can be challenging to some. It's one thing to talk, but another to write down every day talk to make your characters sound authentic. I really try to strive for a conversational tone when I use dialogue, but there are some things I strive NOT to do:

I try not to use "hey man," "Yo dude," and that type of slang or jargon. Sure, we may talk like this in real life, but a reader doesn't want to read a page of that.

Try not to have the characters address each other by name in every quote. For example:

"Josie, don't do that."
"Why not, Mom?"
"Because I said so, Josie."
"Aw, Mom..."

The repetation is hard on the reader. Besides, we don't really talk like that. Do we? (raises eyebrow)

The next thing I want to mention is dialogue tags. Don't put action in a dialogue tag. Put the action in a seperate sentence, usually before the quote. Try to only use "he said" or "she replied." You can add "quietly" or "softly," or some other adverb after the replied or said to get something across, but don't do it all the time.

TRY NOT TO DO:

"All right, mom," said Gus, looking at the ground, avoiding his mother.

BETTER:

Gus looked at the ground, avoiding his mother's stare. "All right, Mom."


Let dialogue move the story forward, not drive it forward. There's got to be a good BALANCE between dialogue and narration. Too much narration lends itself to "telling" a story. One of the best ways to "Show" a story is to use dialogue.

Hope those tips helped.
Smiles
Steph

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week 3 NaNoWriMo Update - Slogging on



Well, it's week 3. Let me tell you, I am feeling a million things - stressed out, drained, and worried. I call this the storm before the dawn. I am drained. Writing 2K words a day is challenging since I have very little time. I'm stressed because I want to make 2K a day or I'll get behind. I'm drained because I am writing 2K at least and it's draining work. How's that for honesty.

On the plus side - I'm on target. I've got 32K words so far and I'll be adding some more today. And I LOVE what I'm writing. I love this story. Budapest is fantastic city for the setting. The story is romantic, mysterious, and fun. I love Anton. He's so tortured and Amelia's like a candle in the dark for him, just lighting up Ravenwind and his heart. The plot is strong. I've got some great scenes planned. I just need to write.

I'm drained, but I'm plugging on. **smiles**


ABOUT THE NOVEL:

Can a man haunted by an ancient curse fall in love? That’s what Count Anton Varga dares to explore when he meets beautiful and talented Lady Amelia Andrássy. Anton rediscovers Amelia in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, giving a concert and he hungers to pursue her, only he has a secret which he fears she will not accept. With the help and support of his friend and servant, Georg, Anton decides to win Amelia’s heart. Will the journey bring him the love he’s hungered for, or will it tear his heart apart?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday's thoughts on Genre Writing - Children's Genre




Isn't he a cutie? That's my boy, Joe. It's amazing what a child can inspire, isn't it? Here are some of my thoughts on children's writing:

Children love books. Whether it’s sitting down in mommy’s lap or curling up in a quiet corner to read, a good book gives them a grand adventure. However, writing for children is a lot more challenging than you think.

Typically, children’s stories are shorter and use simply language, but a short story may not be a good story. There are several elements in crafting a children’s story that you, the writer, should be aware of.

One of the elements needed for a good children’s story is plot. It should be fun and engaging. Remember, today’s children’s books compete with TV, video games, Wii, and movies. Take children on an adventure in your book. Don’t be over simplistic. The story should follow a logical sequence of events that children should understand.

Keep in mind your plot should have some conflict as well. The conflict should be aimed at the age level you’re writing for. Conflict in children’s writing doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be an escaped cat, a move to a new town, or the first day of school. Just remember to bring the conflict down to a level that children can understand.

Also remember there are different age ranges and audiences in children’s literature. You want to gear your plot and conflict to suit those ages. You have board books, picture books, early readers, beginning chapter books, and young adult books. If you’re not familiar with these formats, you might want to do a little research. Read books in the targeted age range you want to write in. Talk to kids about what they like to read or don’t like to read.

Another element in crafting a good’s children’s story is characterization. Children have to be able to relate to the characters in the story. What helps is to keep the dialogue as natural as you can. (If you use any) Tailor your dialogue towards the developmental age range you’re writing for.

Another thing to remember is that a children’s story doesn’t have to tell a moral. It should first be fun and engaging to read. Also, a children’s book doesn’t have to rythme. Some writers haven’t mastered rythming and they may come up with a poor rythme scheme. Don’t force it. Remember a good book doesn’t have to fit into a series. Let a series be an outgrowth of a good character.

Overall, writing for children can be very rewarding, especially if you craft a story with a dash of adventure, a pin of fun, and a tablespoon of character.


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Recently, my son has had issues taking a bath and it's been hard trying to make bath time fun. I've taken to calling Joe Chicken while he's in the tub and well, he doesn't seem to mind. With that said, here's a little short I came up with recently called, "CLEAN JOE CHICKEN."

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Joe should brush his hair and pick out his own shirt to wear. He could floss his teeth and slip on his own shoes, but Joe did not like to take a bath.

His mother tried everything. She tried bubbles. She bought him toy boats. She let him take his favorite letters into the bath, “J” and “B” but he still got more water on her than he did on him.

Joe’s mom didn’t know what to do. Her straight hair had turned curly from trying to give Joe a bath. Then one day Mom spied Joe playing with his farm set in the back yard and she had an idea.
That night she ran his bathwater and laid ou
t her supplies – Joe’s shampoo, soap, and washrag. She used red paint and made the bathtub look like a farm house. When Joe walked into the bathroom his eyes grew wide.

“Where’s the bathtub?” he asked.
Mom smiled. “I thought I’d use a trough to clean my little chicken.”
“I’m not a chicken, I’m Joe.”

“For the next ten minutes you’re Joe Chicken.”
A slow smile grew across his face. Mom helped him to undress and plopped him into the trough.

He giggled. “Cluck, Cluck, Cluck.”

“Okay, let’s clean the chicken hair.”
Joe sat patiently as his mom washed his hair. She gave him a washrag and he wiped his face.

“Okay, it’s time to clean the chicken wings.”
Joe held out his arms and his mom soaped him up.

“Okay, it’s time to wash the chicken legs,” said his mom.

He stuck out his legs and giggled. His mom gave him a wash cloth and he soaped up his own legs. He wiped his chicken toes, cleaned behind his chicken ears, and even washed his little chicken armpits.

His mom grabbed a yellow towel. “Okay, Chicken Joe, it’s time to come out.”
Joe pulled the plug and his mom covered him in the towel.

Joe smiled at his mom. “That was fun. Can I be Chicken Joe tomorrow?”
His mom smiled at back at him. “Of course, Joe. You sure can.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 2 NaNoWriMo 09 update - plugging away


I'm two weeks into NaNoWriMo and I thought I'd post an update. This is my first year tackling NaNoWriMo. It's been very rewarding, but very demanding.

Well, I knew the project I wanted to work on - a paranormanal romance that takes place in Budapest 1901 between a "relucant" werewolf, and a woman. I need to really make a start on it, and NaNoWriMo has given me that. It was plotted before I started writing and in fact I'd written a 4,000 short and a 10,000 word in prepartion for the novel.

What I find demanding is finding the time to write at 2,000 words a day, which is my goal. I usually find the time at work, but my work schedule has been a bit off this week. I had Monday off, worked Tuesday, had the holiday off, and worked yesterday.

It's hard for me to write at home unless everyone is out of the house. Which is very rare. I'm plugging away, but I am feeling a bit fatigued.

I'm in the LA area, but the support groups are actually in the LA area, and since I'm in Castaic, it's hard to get there. The good news is that I've found a great partner to NaNoWriMo with and I've really enjoyed the times we're gotten together to write. I have to admit, it makes a BIG difference have someone there to offer on the spot encouragement and suggestions.



I'm up to 21,055 words so far, just a couple hundred words off the pace I should be at. I can't wait to crack 25K. I'm going to enjoy a bottle of my favorite wine and take the day off. hehe.

My story takes place in Budapest. I've been to Budapest once in Sep 1997. It's been 12 years so I'm sure Budapest has changed, but I LOVED Budapest. It was such an international city. I loved the history it embodied and I loved the central/eastern feel. It wasn't as modern as Paris or Frankfurt, Germany, but it was thriving and alive with a culture all it's own. The Danube spilt the city in half giving the city an extra layer of character. I've including a picture of Budapest, one that gives me inspiration.

Here's a blurb for the novel:
Can a man haunted by an ancient curse fall in love? That’s what Count Anton Varga dares to explore when he meets beautiful and talented Lady Amelia Andrássy. Anton rediscovers Amelia in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, giving a concert and he hungers to pursue her, only he has a secret which he fears she will not accept. With the help and support of his friend and servant, Georg, Anton decides to win Amelia’s heart. Will the journey bring him the love he’s hungered for, or will it tear his heart apart?

You can find me on the official site at:
http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/526402

If you get a chance, pop on in and check it out!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

California Tidbit - The Pigeon Point Lighthouse


I haven’t been to any lighthouses in California, but with a huge coastline, I thought I’d go Internet exploring. Besides, I find lighthouses romantic inspiration and I’m all for learning more about California, my new home.

Pigeon Point is about 50 miles south of San Francisco. The lighthouse itself is on a cliff about 115 feet above the water. It’s one of the tallest lighthouses in America and has been working since 1872. In fact, the lighthouse will soon be celebrating a birthday. It was first lit on 15 NOV 1872 – so we’re just two days away from its birthday. The lighthouse initially had a five wick lard oil lamp and a Fresnel lens with 1,008 prisms.

In 1853, the clipper ship, Carrier Pigeon was shipwrecked on the rocks just south of Half Moon Bay and so it was renamed Pigeon Point in memory of the accident. Since 1853 to 1872, there were a total of 3 more shipwrecks. Since it proved a place hard to navigate, a lighthouse was put in 1872.

During prohibition, the point became a favorite place for bootleggers since it was so remote, yet close to San Francisco. In 1939, the Coast Guard took charge of the light. In December 2001, the lighthouse suffered some structural damage and has been closed to the public pending a retro fit.

What I liked about the lighthouse when I was cruising pictures was how it stood – tall and proud, protectively overlooking the coast. (As a side note, I have to admit, that I still get a little unnerved when I look at the California coast. It’s on the left to me, and I’m used to looking at the right and the Atlantic.) I feel this lighthouse inspiring a poem…

While there’s not much history behind the lighthouse, not like the “White Island Light,” I looked at last month, just a picture of this lighthouse inspires the imagination. Can’t wait to cook something up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing Genres - An Overview of Romance



The romance genre continues to be one of the most popular fiction genres to date. Romances of all sub-genres have two aspects of plot that are consistent throughout. First, the love story is the center point of the story, and second, the ending is emotionally satisfying. The genre was given life in 1740 with Pamela or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson who wrote about a courtship from the woman's perspective. Jane Austen helped to further the genre with Pride and Prejudice, a book that made her a "master" of romance.

Romance continued to be popular into the 20th Century and shows no sign of slowing down in the 21st. Popular sub-genres of romance include historical, paranormal, contemporary, erotica, regency, category, and romantic suspense.

Historical
Georgette Heyer was the first to explore this sub-genre in 1921 with a romance set in the Regency period. (See Regency a little further down.) Historical romance explores romance that are set in the past. History is used in varying degrees - from setting to becoming an intrigual part of the plot. When writing historical romance, its important to do a lot of research to remain authentic and true to the romance.

Contemporary
A contemporary romance takes place in a modern day setting. Currently, its the most written about sub-genre. This also includes the recent popular trend known as "chick-lit." Contemporary isn't afraid to tackle modern issues such as a woman balancing a career and love. Keep in mind endings must be emotionally satisfying. If a contemporary novel or story ends with a principal dying or a sad ending, then its published as women's fiction, not romance.

Regency
A Regency romance takes place during a set historical time frame. It is usually in England between 1811-1820 when Prince George (the future George IV) ruled as regent during his father's (George III) illness. An interesting note: Jane Austen wrote regency romance, but remember - to her it was contemporary romance. She was writing during these years. Regencies focus on society and dialogue over action and sex to capture the essence of the time period.

Paranormal
Paranormal is a sub-genre that is trending well right now. The biggest aspect of this sub-genre is that the romance takes place in a fantasy type world. This included werewolves, vampires, and more fantasy type beings such as pixies and nymphs. The focus here is romance first, fantasy second.

Category
These are serial romances, mainly released by Harlequin and Silhouette. They tend to be much shorter than most romances. An interesting note: Nora Roberts cut her teeth writing in his sub-genre.

Romantic Suspense
This is known as the cousin to Gothic Romance. (I discussed Gothic Romance in my January Newsletter.) The sub-genre currently trend toward stories involving drug dealers, smugglers and such. Windswept Moors and spooky houses are yesterday's trends. Romantic suspense is seen as a good bridge from the romantic genre to the mainstream, best selling market.

Other sub-genres include time travel, gothic, and erotica. Whatever sub-genre you choose to explore, just remember research gives your story the authenticity the tale craves.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Excerpt Monday - The Fall of the Wall, Memories



Today is the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a poignant moment and history and one I lived first hand. I thought I'd share some of my memories and excerpt from my book, "Destination: Berlin" with you today.



Where was I on 9 NOV 09? I was gradutating from MPI (Military Police Investiations) school in Ft. McCellan, AL. As the wall came down and East Germans danced on the wall, I was backing my bags and preparing to get on the plane for my 2nd tour of duty in Germany. I was 21, single, and ready for another great adventure in Europe.



My first tour of duty in Germany was from DEC 86 - DEC 88. I was an MP stationed in the Germany city of Muenster. There was 200 American and 10,000 Brits in Muenster. It was an hour away from the Netherlands border. In JUL 88, I went to Berlin on the Berlin Orientation Tour for winning Solider of the Quarter for my Battalion. It was a trip I will NEVER forget. I walked through the gates of Checkpoint Charlie and I saw the Berlin Wall up front and close.




Regan was President in the mid 1980's and Gorbachev was President of the USSR. With the USSR'S economy in ruins, Gorbachev steered his country toward a dignified end of the Cold War. In 1987, Ronald Regan dared Mr. Gorbachev to "Take down this wall." It was a speech of Regan's that even today, I remember.



What else happened during my first tour. Spandau Prison's last Nazi Prisioner, died. Remember Rudolph Hess. He died in 1987 and the prision was taken down.



On 10 NOV 09, I got a plane and landed in Frankfurt. I in-processed into the European theatre at the Rhein Main AFB (which I believed closed in 2004? 2005) and I was assigned as an MP to the headquarters element in Fulda in support of the 11th ACR. Fulda was one hour away from the old east/west German border. It was on the Fulda gap, the place where they thought the Russians would invade since the land consisted of gentle rolling hills.





I remember seeing Ladas and Travants flood the western autobahns. The Catherdal's parking lot in Fulda was packed for weeks. East Germans would honk and wave when they saw my American plated car in German. There was a lot of excitement in the air, a lot of good will.



Eventually, time erroded the good will feelings. Some are still there. But East Germany stagnated. There's been a lot to moderize the country, but even still some western Germans still look down on East Germans as lazy.



The good things? Germany is a nation again. It's WHOLE. It's complete. The German people are ONE. And that's a good THING. The capital is once again BERLIN and Berlin is a wonderful international city. It's a city that I visited a lot between 1990-1996. I haven't seen it in over 10 years, but I know it's WHOLE - it's one, it's healed. And despite the mild rumblings of displeasure, there's nothing better than for a nation to be WHOLE again.



Today, Hillary Clinton will join the Festival of Freedom at the Brandenburg gate, and the historian in me is thrilled to see this. I remember going to the Brandenburg Gate, newly cleaned and sharing a shot of Irish Coffee under the gate with my husband. It was a special moment for me, a moment I'll treasure, knowing the historical symbolism of the gate - freedom and it's hope.



The actual wall was built in 1961. It stayed alive for 28 years. Now it's been 20 years since it's death. Also celebrating with Clinton is Gorbachev, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicholas Sarczoy. I wish I could be there for this bit of history and rememberance.



The fall of the wall - let freedom ring in Europe!





EXCERPT FROM DESTINATION:BERLIN - Sharon finds Top Secrets in her possession that she didn't know she had.



He approached and motioned for them to kneel against the bushes, then he looked hard at her. Sharon could sense a change in his demeanor and it unnerved her.

“Corporal,” he said seriously, “I need for you to be totally and completely honest with me right now. Can you do that?”

“Of course,” Sharon answered. “What’s wrong?”

“Are you a courier? Do you have classified government documents with you? Documents the Stasi want?” asked Dimitri.

Sharon shook her head. “No,” she said slowly. “I told you in the dining car. I’m going to Berlin to attend the Orientation Tour.”

Dimitri stared hard at her for a moment. In the darkness, Sharon was sure she could detect him softening, but he asked again, “You have no secret documents on you?”

“No,” she repeated firmly. “What’s going on?”

“What’s in your briefcase?”

“My paperwork. Border crossing documentation.”

“Let me see it,” he said firmly.

“Why?” she said, her voice sounding calmer than she felt. “What are you expecting to find? Secret government documents?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not lying to you, Jr. Sgt.”

Dimitri put his hand on hers and looked gently into her eyes. “I believe you. Please let me look. Our lives depend on it.”

“Look.” She gave him the briefcase, confident he would find nothing out of the ordinary.

He opened the case and read her border crossing documents, squinting in the firelight. Satisfied, he removed the entire contents and jiggled the bottom of the case. It began to move and then separated altogether from the case.

“It’s got a false bottom,” Sharon remarked, keeping her voice even and firm. She hoped it hid the trepidation she felt.

Dimitri extracted a folder. He recognized the top sheet, blue and with the word “Top Secret” printed on it.

She was stunned. What was going on, she wondered, her heart racing? Where had that file come from? She didn’t put it there. How did it get there and how did Dimitri know about it?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 1 - NaNoWriMo - I'm doing okay so far...


Well, here we are 6 days into NaNoWriMo and I'm pumped. Still. Amazing to believe, huh?

This is my first year doing NaNoWriMo. I've always been initimidated by it in the past, but this year I decided to bite the bullet. I had a novel I needed to write and I thought NaNoWriMo would be a great opportunity to write it. On 15 Oct I signed up and started preparing.

I gathered my tools. I made a graphic of the cover to inspire me. Actually, Kiyasama from Writing.com helped me come up with the graphic.

I wrote a blurb. I outlined my plot, cast my characters, and threw paper all over my living room table. I've got character bios and ink strewn throughout my computer room.

My goal is approx 2K words a day. I'm getting there. I usually handwrite my chapters at work and then when I get home I type them into the computer. It's not really time consuming. On my days off I go to the "It's A Grind" down by the Ralph's and meet up with a writing buddy and type away.

It's working so far. No writer's block, if anything, I don't have enough time in the day to write. It sucks. haha!

My novel is a paranormal romance and it takes place in Hungary in 1901. Here's the blurb:

Can a man haunted by an ancient curse fall in love? That’s what Count Anton Varga dares to explore when he meets beautiful and talented Lady Amelia Andrássy. Anton rediscovers Amelia in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, giving a concert and he hungers to pursue her, only he has a secret which he fears she will not accept. With the help and support of his friend and servant, Georg, Anton decides to win Amelia’s heart. Will the journey bring him the love he’s hungered for, or will it tear his heart apart?

If you want to check me out on the official site, here's my link:
http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/526402

If you want to sign me up as a writing buddy I'm StephB

Have a great week NaNoWriMo'ing!
Steph

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Writing Tip Tuesday - Descriptions & Drama


I thought I'd post a few of my thoughts about descriptions today since today is my writing tip day.

Descriptions are needed to paint our worlds on paper, but for the new writer, they may be hard to master. Some authors use too many descriptions and some don't use enough. Where can you find the balance?

Here's some tips:

Descriptions either tap into the five senses or they are metaphors.

For new writers, mastering the five senses should come first. An example would be: Her hair smelled like strawberries, fresh and vibrant. The meat tasted wooden and hard. The air had a sharp, punguent odor, like sulfur. Her lips brushed against his, light as a feather.

All of the above examples describe using a good economy of words.

Metaphors take a little bit more to master. They involve using "as" and "like." For example:

Her heart took flight like a hummingbird's wings. He ran through the aisle like a prized stallion.

The examples above use a good economy of words.

TIP: You never want to start your story with a paragraph of description. That will snooze the reader out of your world. Start with action and lace in sentences of descriptions that compliment the action.

For example: She ran hard and fast, avoiding the potholes in the dirt road. She hated running. Only now she was running for her life. It didn't help that the sun was out, beating through the canopy of trees making her sweat. She had to keep going or they would catch her and kill her.

Hope that helps. Remember:

Describe whatever it is using the five senses. (This is the easy one)
Describe whatever it is using metaphors (a little harder to master)
Use a good economy of words
Never open up a story with description.

NaNoWriMo Write on!
Steph

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Excerpt - Across The Fickle Winds of History


The Set up:


Olga Romanov meets a mysterious stranger, Paul Kerensky.


********


Soldiers normally patrolled the roadway from an elite Cossack
regiment, of which my father had made me an honorary colonel.
Tatiana was also an honorary colonel of a Cavalry regiment. Marie
would receive an honorary title on her sixteenth birthday as well,
which was still two years away.


Tatiana suddenly stopped and caught my wrist.


“Do you hear that?”


I shrugged my shoulders and Tatiana frowned at me with her big,
hazel eyes, pulling me to a nearby rock to hide ourselves. There was
nothing that exasperated me more than when my sister looked at me
like I was a ten-year-old. Mind you, Tatiana and I shared all our
secrets, and were each other’s closest confidantes, but she was far
more outgoing and bold than I. She peered around the side of the
thick, gray boulder, and I looked over her shoulder.


I was totally unprepared for what I saw. Marie and Anastasia were
talking to three young people, two men, one girl, closer to my age.
They were laughing and giggling over some unknown joke, but the
sight of him nearly stopped my heart from beating. I stumbled against
Tatiana, accidentally pushing her to the ground, collapsing on top of
her. She screamed my name at the top of her lungs and he
immediately ran to our position. His strong hands helped me to my
feet while his companion helped Tatiana to hers. The electricity that
jolted my body sent waves of pleasure rippling down my arms, and I
had no idea a touch could inspire all that.


The minute our eyes met I stumbled again on the hard ground, and
he wrapped his muscled arm around my waist to prevent me from
falling. His firm lips curved into a sweet, sincere smile, and his
almond brown eyes held me riveted to the spot. His thick black hair
gleamed in the beams of the sun. He wore a long overcoat to keep
warm, but underneath he wore a simple shirt, with the top button
undone to reveal manly wisps of dark hair curling against the opening.
I had no doubt he was used to the cold and that he enjoyed it. My
mystery man had an air of authority and confidence of one who
commanded respect. As his body pressed ever so gently into mine, I
could feel his granite-like muscles and I knew in that moment he was a
man fickle history would recall as a hero.


“Are you all right?”


His deep, masculine voice seemed to purr in my ear, and I thought
my cheeks might color under his heavy gaze.


“I’m fine, just a little…”


“Embarrassed?” Anastasia volunteered.


“I think Olga likes you, Paul. I’ve never seen her blush like so,”
added my sister Marie.


I took a step away from him, glaring at my young sisters, as I
brushed off the remnants of the ground’s hard dirt from my jacket’s
sleeves.


He stopped my hurried, flustered actions by taking my hand in his.
Another warm jolt of electricity seemed to shoot down my arm the
minute he touched me. Then, like an imperial gentleman, he bowed
before me, sweeping his lips lightly over my knuckles.


“It is a pleasure to meet you, Grand Duchess Olga. I am Paul
Kerensky.”

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A bite of New England - The Breakers



It's Sunday again and time for my New England tidbit. This one is a bit personal for me - The Breakers.



The Breakers is a manison in Newport, Rhode Island that was built at the turn of the century by the Vanderbilt's. I discovered The Breakers in 1985 when my American Studies class went there on a field trip. American Studies was an honor level class that combined American lit & English. The Breakers, of course, embody American history.



What do I remember from that field trip? Two things - I was finally gaining acceptance from my classmates. I was never much of a popular kid, and I pretty much stuck to myself, but I found myself making friends with the kids in my class - finally - and I was happy about that. I had someone to sit with on the bus and someone to eat lunch with. I was happy. Simple things, I know, but back then...



The day was overcast, I remember that. It didn't rain. It was April, I believe, but I could be wrong. The Breakers was HUGE. It was square and majestic, and it embodied everything I thought high society was all about. On that first trip, the Breakers left three impressions with me - The Great Hall was magificient - tall, deep, wide, it belonged in a movie. The view from the 2nd floor overlooking the ocean was amazing and it only deepened my love of the sea. The last thing - the Breakers was my favorite Newport mansion. It had an elevator - an elevator at the end of the 1800's. I was impressed. It's a testiment to it's time.




I've been to The Breakers since, but not recently. I took my husband in the early 1990's, because I wanted to show him a place that was beautiful to me. My friends, Idgy & Alyssa went along with my sister and cuzzin' Emmie. What I liked about this trip was the freedom we had to explore. One of my favorite pictures is that of me and Idgy imitating fish statues in the gardens. hehe.



Just a little history:


The Breakers was completed in 1895 by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, but he only lived to enjoy it for 4 years - dying in 1899 of a cerebral hemorrhage caused from a second stroke in 1899 at the age of 55. He left the manison to his wife, Alice.



The previous manison on the property owned by Pierre Lorillard IV burned down in 1892 and Vanderbuilt bought it from him, using the most modern fireproofing at the time.




Vanderbilt's youngest daughter, Countess Gladys Széchenyi (1886-1965), leased the high-maintenance property to the non-profit Preservation Society of Newport County for $1 a year in 1948. The Society bought the Breakers outright in 1972 for $365,000 from Countess Sylvia Szapary, the daughter of Gladys.



Today, an agreement with the Society allows the family to continue to live on the third floor, which is not open to the public.



Countess Sylvia died in 1998, but her children still summer there to this day.




Interesting facts: Although the mansion is owned by the Society, the original furnishings displayed throughout the house are still owned by the family.



It is now the most-visited attraction in Rhode Island with approximately 300,000 visitors annually and is open year-round for tours.



Controversially, in April 2009 the museum stopped offering personalized tours by tour guides due to a decision by management. Patrons now receive standard audio headsets.



The Designer:


The Breakers is also a definitive expression of Beaux-Arts architecture in American domestic design by one of the country's founding fathers of architecture, Richard Morris Hunt. The Breakers is one of the few surviving works of Hunt that has not been demolished in the last century and is therefore valuable for its rarity as well as its architectural excellence. The Breakers was Hunt’s final work, and is the singular house that has withstood the vagaries of time to be remembered as the monument that was the architect’s greatest achievement. The Breakers made Hunt the "dean of American architecture" as well as helping define the era in American life which Hunt helped to shape.




Info for this blog entry was taken from Wikipedia at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Breakers



If you ever get a chance to visit The Breakers in Rhode Island, I highly recommend it.