A Gentleman and a Rogue

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Trailer for The Hungarian

My book, The Hungarian, releases on 1 MAY 2010 with Desert Breeze, and I just got the book trailer for it. *hehehe* I'm very excited about it and I just want to gush about Kerri Nelson's work. She does a great job with it. You can find the trailer on You Tube, but I've also enclosed it here. Enjoy! *smiles* Steph

Promo Wednesday - Be Mused


I'm very excited. The Be Mused anthology releases tomorrow with Desert Breeze. Here's an excerpt from my Story, "Matchmaking Amusements." Jane meets Antonio. Enjoy!

*****

"So, Ms. Ryan, would you like to go out to lunch?"

Jane glanced at her wristwatch and groaned. "I'm ten minutes late for a meeting with my editor."

He raised a curious eyebrow. "You're a writer?"

"Yes."
Sandra Bullock, my inspiration for Jane


"So am I."

Jane's smile broadened. Adonis was a writer! "Well, ah, I'd like to have lunch with you, but I – oh, heck. Let me call Gus and reschedule."

"Your editor won't be mad?"

"I'm sure he'll be upset, but he'll reschedule." She paused. "I scare him."

"You do?"
David Ponce, my inspiration for Antonio


"He's 5'6," said Jane. Thank God Adonis was taller than her.

"Ah, that explains it," said Antonio, grinning.

Jane reached into her purse and dialed a number on her cell phone, rescheduling her meeting for tomorrow. Then she spied Isolde sitting on the flower cart next to a male muse. They were holding hands and grinning from ear to ear. A male muse? Antonio's muse, perhaps? Holding hands? What was Isolde up to? Jane flashed her muse a disapproving grin. Isolde looked like a cat caught in the middle of a flower garden.








***
Be Mused will be available at the Desert Breeze Publishing website, The Amazon Kindle store, and All Romance Books - tomorrow!

*Isolde does the happy dance!*
Smiles
Steph

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Genre Writing Tuesday - Romantic Conflict


I write the Romance/Love Newsletter for Writing.com and I wanted to share this bit about romantic conflict, especially for new writers, just starting to "hone" their craft.

Conflict must have layers. It's not satisifying if the hero and heroine and tackling a problem and getting along great. They have a problem to solve together, but no conflict.

So what is conflict? Honest to goodness meaty romantic conflict?

It's not:
Fighting or aruging - this is superfiscal.
Let's face it, fighting is not romantic.

A delay - where's the conflict in a delay?
A failure to communicate - your heo and heroine must be able to make a decision. They must know what they want.
Another person meddling - if this is the cause of the conflict, then hero/heroine might appear too passive to take charge of their lives.

ULITMATELY, confict centerrs around the type of character the hero and heroine are.

Short Term Conflict
This is the problem that brings your hero and heroine together.

Long Term Conflict
This conflict challenges them to find happiness.

Short term conflict is an external problem that usually oepns up the romance in your story. The long term conflict is the interal conflict that the characters have - lack of trust for example, or a painful past. This is the conflict the hero and heroine have to overcome to come together as a couple.

Trust issues, a fear of rejection, these are examples of the "meat and potatoes" of romantic conflict.

Once you get past the short term conflict, you need to explore the long term conflict. Then you ca draw out the deep emotions in your characters.

Mastering conflict can be challenging, but very rewarding in the end.

*smiles*
Steph

Monday, March 29, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Jane & Antonio from "Be Mused" Available 1 APR



The Be Mused Anthology is a collection of 5 lighthearted short stories about muses, their writers, and love. My story in the anthology is called, "Matchmaking Amusement."


The Set up:
In this scene, Isolde, Jane's muse, made Jane sneeze. Jane tripped and fell - right into Antonio's arms.

*********


Jane fell into the strong arms of the man walking behind her. Then she looked into his soft hazel eyes and smiled. "Ah, hi."

"Hi," he replied, his voice deep and rich.

Sandra Bullock, my inspiration for "Jane Ryan."


Her handsome stranger helped her to her feet. She tried to stand up, but only had on one pump and stumbled again – right into Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. He wrapped his arms around her again. Their eyes caught. Jane's breath hitched. He was Adonis brought to life. He nipped at his lower lip with his teeth as he drank her in.

The urge to kiss those pouty red lips washed over her like a river current. Someone slap her silly. She'd just made a fool out of herself! Slowly, she disengaged from his muscular arms and stepped out of her good pump so she stood flat footed on the ground. "I'm sorry, I seem to have lost my shoe when I sneezed."

He playfully nodded his head as he smiled at her. She knew that type of smile. He was admiring her from head to toe. It had been a while since a man admired her. Two years? Three? Longer?

David Ponce, my inspiration for "Antonio."


"That sounds lame, doesn't it?" she asked.

"A little. I’m Antonio Martinez."

"Jane Ryan."

"It's nice to meet you, Jane," he said.

Jane took a deep breath as she ran her eyes over him. Again. He was older, late thirties, early forties maybe, and he had a grin that could light up a moonless night. She wasn't quite sure what to do next, but she knew she wanted to redeem herself. She didn't want Adonis thinking she was a ditz.

*******

Be Mused will be avail on 1 APR 2010 through Desert Breeze Publishing; http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com, at the Amazon Kindle store, and at all Romance Books

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Friday Review - "The Phoenix Rebellion, Book 1, Revolution"



I just finished this awesome book by Gail Delaney. If you enjoy a good science fiction story, you'll love this. *smiles* Steph

***

Book Review for: "The Phoenix Rebellion, Book 1: Revolution"
Written by: Gail Delaney
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 1-936000-08-3
Released: Oct 1, 2009
Ebook Format
$5.99
5 Stars

Delaney scores with Book One of the Phoenix Rebellion, "Revolution." Set in the near future, Delaney puts together an ensemble cast of characters and pits them against the Areth for the survival of the human race.

The Areth come from outer space and appear human. They've come to Earth and shared medical technology with us, but little else. A group of humans, "The Phoenix Rebellion," believe the Areth do not have peaceful intentions toward the human race. Covertly, a member of the Rebellion, Dr. Caitlin Montgomery, infiltrates the Areth's medical complex in New Mexico. Caitlin learns that an Areth scientist, Kathleen, gave birth to a half-human, half-Areth child, Michael. Michael's father is a human, Col. Nick Tanner. Caitlin finds Nick in Maine and shares the information with him. He's stunned. He thought his wife and son had died in childbirth. Without a second thought, Tanner joins the Rebellion, despite the fact that his feelings for Caitlin are complicated due to their previous affair which ended badly.

Nick finds General Castleton in Colorado and meets other members of the Rebellion – a married couple, Lilly, who is a doctor and her pilot husband, Jace. There's also an empath, Dr. Beverly Surimoto. After a carefully coordinated plan, the Rebellion attack the Areth's complex in New Mexico, hoping to free the Areth's subjects – including Michael. An Areth scientist, Victor, has befriended Michael and helps the Rebellion. All is not well with Victor though, as he begins having a mental breakdown. The escape from the Areth's complex in New Mexico is a thrill ride, but one of the Rebellion loses his life and the fate of the human race hangs precariously in the balance.

Delaney's writing is sharp. After a quick introduction to the Areth, Delaney jumps into the story. The plot flows well, never lingering. Delaney uses a good economy of words to paint descriptions. It's easy for the reader to visualize her futuristic world.

Delaney's characters are what makes this science fiction story shine. Col. Nick Tanner is a passionate man who has been hurt deeply in the past. Learning to trust Caitlin again is a struggle. Caitlin, for her part, realizes the folly of her youth, and tries to make up for it. The couple's chemistry is on a slow, smoldering burn that threatens to consume both when ignited. Victor's plight is heartbreaking, especially since he's an alien who shows Michael compassion. Michael's condition is intriguing. It's never fully explored in this book, leaving the reader wanting to discover more about him.

The story is "sophisticated" for romance readers. Delaney's love scenes are intense, yet tasteful. Book One: Revolution is a story packed with adventure, excitement, and love, making it a thrilling start to "The Phoenix Rebellion" series.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Fun - Writing & Reading



Today I'm playing a little catch up with my posts, so I've had fun with my hodgepodge - I hope you do, too.

My opening picture is the "Wolf" Moon. Usually, the January moon is the Wolf Moon. It's the moon just after the start of winter. January is a cold month at night and the wolves are known to come out and howl their discomfort. Thus, the name of "Wolf" Moon. So why am I talking about wolves in late March?

*grin*

Because I'm working on a newsletter article about alpha, beta, and omega men for my Writing.com Romance/Love newsletter and I've learned some interesting stuff about each.

Since I'm a paranormal fiction writer and I've taken on werewolves in my writing, it's good to know the difference between alpha, omega, and beta men. I think we're all a little familiar with Alpha men - loners, mostly, they are confident, cocky, powerful or in postions of power, assertive, masterful - let's face it superior. He usually has one weakness that brings him down to earth. They are the quintessential "romantic" man in romance fiction.

The "beta" man is the everyday man. They are charming, affable, and are a family type guy. Unlike the alpha male, the beta guy has lots of friends. They'll stand up for what they believe in, but don't care for confrontation. Alpha males will embrace head-on confrontation. The "beta" guy is found more often than not in contemporary romance novels.

An "omega" man is somewhere in the middle of the alpha and beta. The alpha must have the recongization of being the toughest, meanest, smartest guy. The omega knows he is - he doesn't need the recoginzation. The omega male does seek out friendship. He has one or two meaningful relationships around him. He doesn't care for shallow relationships. The Omega man doesn't want to be a leader of a group. He doesn't want to belong to any group. Think of it this way - the Alpha male is all out in everything he does. The omega male is much more subtle in everything he does.

My hero in my upcoming release, "The Hungarian," Matthias Duma, is an omega man. He knows he's the bomb, but he keeps it to himself. He has several meaningful relationships with Lazlo and Janos, example, but he doesn't have an acquaintances. (like a beta would have) It fits him and the story.

WHAT I'M READING

One Snowy Knight by Deborah Macgillivray.




This is an historical story, taking place during the late 1200's in Scotland during the time of Edward I (Longshanks) of England. Edward has taken Scotland and is placing his England lords in Scotish holding. Noel de Servian has been awarded Cragienden, but on his way, the winter wind and snow take charge and his horse bolts from him, leaving him alone and injuried in the snow just outside of the castle's wall. The current lady, Skena MacIain, finds him and nurses him back to health.

This is a story rich in the time period. Both Noel and Skena are interesting characters and the supporting cast is just as enjoyable. Skena has faced a lot of hardship. Noel has led a hard life.

While I generally stay away from Scots tales, what really intrigued me was Macgillivray's book trailer. The book trailer had me sold. I'm glad I picked up this book. It's a wonderful tale to lose oneself in. I also like how Mcgillivray has captured the "flavor" of the language without dragging the story down. I can read and understand what the characters are saying with ease.

THE LONG & SHORT EASTER EGG HUNT

I'll be participating in the Long & Short Easter Egg Hunt this month. It starts on 29 MAR which is just a couple of days away. Long and Short are giving out some great prizes. The egg can be found on my blog, here, so be on the lookout for it.

*smile*

Here's a link to their promotion: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm

Have fun today all,
Steph

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview with Nicole Zoltack, author of "The Kingdom of Arnhem"


Hi everyone! I have author Nicole Zoltack popping in today to talk about writing and her "Kingdom of Arnhem" Series. I read Nicole's first book in the series, "Woman of Honor" and I enjoyed it very much! Enjoy the interview!

STEPH: - How did you come up with the idea for the Kindgom of Arnhem series?

NICOLE: I'm obsessed with everything related to the Middle Ages and the Reniassance and knights and chivalry. My wedding was Renaissance themed (there are a few photos on my website). My hubby and I have a sword collection. Many times, we're gone to the Pa Renaissance Faire, and I'll wear period garb.

Anyhow, I love to read everything I can about this period as well. During some research, I began to wonder if any females were knights, knowing how women were treated back then. To my surprise, there were. In fact, I learned about an entire order of female knights! When Aislinn goes to the king to ask about becoming a knight, she cites these brave women as to why she should be given her chance.


STEPH - Do you cast your characters? If so, who plays Caelan? Geoffrey? Aislinn?

NICOLE: Sometimes. I find it a lot harder to cast my female characters for some reason so I didn't cast Aislinn. But Caelan is Gerard Butler (only with darker blue eyes) and Geoffrey is a short grey-eyed Paul Walker.

STEPH: Sigh... Paul Walker. He's a handsome guy, isn't he? Swoon... I love Paul Walker. I used him in my Moldavia series as "Viktor."



STEPH - What story was easier to write? Book 1 or Book 2 in the series?

NICOLE: I would have to say Book 2 just because Woman of Honor had a deeper historical slant while Knight of Glory opens up the fantasy aspect more. It was a lot of fun to explore the world through Geoffrey and to be able to introduce other races. There are dwarves. Unlike a lot of fantasy books, I actually mention the females. And there are trolls. I harken back to the Scandinavia myths about trolls. The females are actually beautiful (definitely not the typical outlook on trolls!) and are always elegantly dressed. The men are large and muscular and hairy.


STEPH: - How do you write? Do you plot the story out or do write a scene and go from there?

NICOLE: I can't completely plot out a story or else I won't finish it! I like to be as surprised by the ending as the readers will be. I guess you could say that I write to entertain, both my readers and myself.

I usually start first with a character or a situation and work from there. Definitely a panster. I don't always write scenes in order either, sometimes I'll skip a scene if the characters refuse to cooperate. And yes, my characters do talk to me. :)



STEPH - Do you write other genres than fantasy? What are your favorite genres.

NICOLE: I write lots of genres: medieval, YA, paranormal, contemporary, horror, and romance. I'm not published in them all (yet!).

My favorite? Wow, that's a hard one. Most of my stories have some aspect of romance in them, even if only a subplot, and sometimes even though I didn't plan for it. The hardest for me to write is contemporary, because I love to add magic or mythological creatures to my stories, which is probably why I write so many fantasy/paranormal stories. Even the horror WIP that is currently on the back burner has a zombie in it.


STEPH - Who are your favorite authors? Did the way they write or the stories they wrote influence or inspire what you write?

NICOLE: I have so many that it would be impossible to list them all!

I love Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. The combination of time travel, history, romance, action and adventure... Each book is a heavy tome but they are well worth the read.

Another series I love is Tamora Pierce's The Lioness Quartet. This series is also about a girl that wants to become a knight, but she lies and pretends to be a boy. All of her books set in her Tortall world are great, but I must confess that I don't care for her Circle of Magic books.

Because of my background in forensics, I love to read true crime books as well as books on serial killers. I have some story ideas for mysteries but I don't know if I'll ever write them. In order to make mysteries work, you have to be a plotter, so I don't know. But I'm always up for a challenge so maybe someday! STEPH: I that's so neat that you have a chemistry degree and a background in forensics! How diverse!

Speaking of mysteries, I love Mary Higgins Clark. My favorite book of all time is Les Miserables. And if I don't stop now, I'll just keep listing books and authors....


STEPH - What's the latest movie you saw?

NICOLE: Avatar. I thought it was visually stunning. The special effects were incredible. But the plot was lacking. I was really disappointed with the storyline. At first, I was swept up in how wonderful and pleasing to the eye it was, but then I reflected on the story, and my enjoyment level shifted. I don't make it out to the movie theaters very often so I wish I saw a better movie instead. I'm sure a lot of people disagree with me but that's just my opinion.


***

You can find Nicole on the Internet at:
http://www.nicolezoltack.com
and on facebook.

Her books are available at the Kindle store on Amazon and at the Desert Breeze Publishing Website: http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Congrats to Gary Paulson - Winner of the ARC for Be Mused!



I just want to congratulate Gary Paulson - Winner of the ARC for "Be Mused." - I cast Chace Crawford as "Tristan," the muse. Tristan appears in my story, "Matchmaking Amusement." In the story he meets "Isolde," another muse and falls in love.

Scarlett Johanson as "Isolde."


In my story, the muses are old in spirit, but young in appearance. Tristan meets Isolde while on vacation in Germany, but in order to be together, Tristan and Isolde conspire to have their writers, Jane Ryan and Antonio Martinez fall in love.

Here's an excerpt from "Matchmaking Amusement" with Tristan and Antonio.

*****
Tristan smiled. One day Antonio would meet a girl and impress her with his poetry -- and Spanish.

Antonio walked back out onto the porch, sat down and sipped his coffee.

"What kept you up?" asked Tristan.
"The end."

Tristan's lips curved into a wicked smile. "Are you there? Now?"
"Almost. I fell asleep."

Tristan rubbed his hands together. "Well, let's whip it out, shall we?"
"Let me enjoy the sunrise first."

Tristan frowned. "At least tell me how far you got."
"Alstair is this close from stealing Dietrich's compass." Antonio lifted one hand and held two fingers within half an inch of each other.

"Really? Where is he?" British lieutenant Alstair York was Antonio's hero from the first book. Josef Dietrich was one of the notorious SS commanders.

"He's visiting Hitler at the Berghof in 1943 for a military planning session."
"The Obersalzberg Mountain!" exclaimed Tristan.

Antonio smiled. "You remembered."

"Who could forget our trip to Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Nest when you were in the
military?"

"Don't get confused. It was a big mountain. The Berghof is a different building than the Kehlsteinhaus, but it was all part of the same complex."

"Of course. The Americans bombed the Berghof and left the Kehlsteinhaus intact."

"I haven't decided if Alstair gets wounded or out of there injury free."
"He's got to be wounded."

"Gun wound?"
"Better yet -- knife wound."

Antonio snapped his fingers. "That's it." He flicked off his screensaver and began to type.

"What's going on?" demanded Tristan. A muse had a right to know.

***
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest! I'll be going on a mini blog tour in support of the anthology the last week of March/first week of April arranged by Classic Romance Revivial.

Also, I'll be interviewed by author Regina Andrews about the anthology and short stories coming up the last week of March. I'll be offering all kinds of fun prizes on my blog tour and interview so please pop in and leave a note.

*smiles*
Steph

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Win an ARC of "Be Mused,' An A-muse-ing Anthology


Muses are fickle creates, sprinkling inspiration on their wards as they see fit. They live in a world just right of center from ours, and to them, we're just the day job. Muses need lives too, you know.

This collection of stories compiled by several authors at Desert Breeze Publishing that will give you some insight into the world of the ethereal creatures who inspire the arts. Contributing authors: J. Morgan, Sandra Sookoo, Nicole Zoltack, Katie Charles, and Stephanie Burkhart.

CHOICE #1 - Zac Efron


My story in the anthology is "Matchmaking A-Muse-Ment." In the story, two pixie muses from New Galatia meet and fall in love. In order to be together, they conspire to have their writers, Jane Ryan and Antonio Martinez meet and fall in love. My match making muses are Isolde and Tristan. They meet while on vacation in Berchesgarten, Germany.

Choice #2 - Chace Crawford


Now, you all know I *love* to cast my characters. In fact, "Isolde" is none other than Dakota Fanning.

Here's the contest - CAST "Tristan." You have three choices - Zac Efron, Chace Crawford, or Taylor Lautner. The contest will go on all week and end on FRI (March 19th) . On Saturday, I'll draw a winner from the entries who picked the actor that I cast Tristan with with. The winner will receive an ARC of "Be Mused."

Choice #3 - Taylor Lautner



Have fun!
Steph

Monday, March 15, 2010

Except Monday - My upcoming release, "The Hungarian"


I just want to gush - I got the cover art for my upcoming release with Desert Breeze, "The Hungarian" and it looks fabulous. Enclosed is an excerpt of my upcoming release where Katherine and Matthias meet. Enjoy! The book will be available May 2010.

***
EXCERPT:

The door squeaked open. Katherine peeked over the top of her book. A tall, muscular man walked in wearing a white button-down shirt and holding his blazer. He paused, as if surprised to find her, and then began to quietly walk toward the window. He moved with wolf-like prowess, his long legs taking cool, calculated steps as his unusual eyes surveyed her. Katherine bit the inside of her lip, returning his measured perusal with one of her own. His silence was unnerving, yet intriguing.

His eyes drew her to him - malachite green with a gold ring around the iris. Dynamic. Expressive. Even now, as he looked at her, they softened and grew translucent. Finally, he stopped in front of the window and casually threw his blazer onto a nearby chair as if he owned the room.

"Hello," he said.

"Hello."

"You're staring."

"I am? I thought you were staring at me."

He chuckled. "Perhaps I was admiring you."

"Me?"

"Who else is here?"

Katherine pursed her lips as her insides warmed from the deep silkiness of his voice. He smiled, and walked over to her chair, slowly gliding around it, tracing his finger over the leather headrest, skirting her curly hair.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"And who is inquiring?" She tried to sound cool and composed, but she had to fight the nervous temptation to play with her hands.

"Romeo, perhaps?"

"Then my name is Juliet."

A teasing smile graced his lips as he walked out from behind her chair and glanced at a bookshelf before turning to look at her again.

"Would you fall for Tristan?"

"Only if my name were Isolode."

He walked over to a wooden table near the window and ran his long finger over a clay mock-up of Excalibur lodged in a stone. "What do you think of 'Arthur?' Do you think it suits me?"

"Only Guinevere would believe your name was Arthur."

He crossed his arms, his eyes sparkling in the sunlight. "Would you believe my name was Matthias?"

"I might, if-"

"If what?"

"If I knew more about you."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Interview with Carie Lawson - author of "Beyond Africa"



Carie Lawson has a new release out with Desert Breeze, "Beyond Africa," a contemporary inspirational romance and I'm honored to have her pop into "Romance Under the Romance" today. Now, onto the interview.

STEPH - Where did you find the inspiration for Beyond Africa?

CARIE: The inspiration for Beyond Africa came from being a Geography teacher for a couple of years. Africa is such an interesting, inspiring place to begin with. The Democratic Republic of Congo has a sad history that I honestly didn't know much about before we started studying about it. I spent quite a bit of time researching the country before I wrote the book. I think missionaries willing to go to places like the DRC are far braver than anyone gives them credit for.


STEPH - Is Beyond Africa your first book?

CARIE: Yes. But after I finished it I wrote Beyond Summer and Beyond Ever After. Then Desert Breeze contracted the series and I went back and rewrote Beyond Africa. I think I ended up cutting about three quarters of the book and rewriting it using the current "rules" of writing--showing instead of telling and third person deep POV. It is without a doubt a much better book now than it was the first time.




STEPH - I haven't had a chance to read the book. Can you tell us a little about the plot?

CARIE: Sure. Lilly returns to the mission her parent worked at when she was a child. She's looking for security in one of the least secure places in the world. Case is the pilot who takes her to the mission...and can't stand the thought of leaving a young, vulnerable woman in a dangerous part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He keeps finding reasons to go back to the mission and check on Lilly, until he finds a way to convince her to leave.

STEPH - Cast the characters. Who do you see as Case? Lilly?

CARIE: Case looks like Matt Damon. No question there. Hmm, Lilly might be Laura Vandervoort. It's hard to cast her as a movie star because I see her as very vulnerable, a trait not super popular in Hollywood right now.

STEPH - What romance genres do you like to read?

CARIE: Contemporary Romance and Contemporary Christian Romance.


STEPH - Who are your favorite authors?

CARIE: Tamara Leigh and Susan May Warren.


STEPH: - What was the last movie you saw?

CARIE: Other than a kid's movie. I think Four Christmases. My husband and I watched it while wrapping presents.

Here's a link to Desert Breeze and Amazon where you can buy Carie's book. Thanks so much for popping in today, Carie!

*smiles*
Steph

Links: Desert Breeze: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-65/%3Ci%3ETwisted-Roots-Book-One-cln-%3C-fdsh-i%3E/Detail.bok

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Roots-Book-One-ebook/dp/B003AKY3WS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1268409215&sr=8-1

Thursday, March 11, 2010

California Thursday - The California Strawberry Festival



This year the Strawberry Festival is going to be held the weekend of the 15th/16th in May. It's always held in Oxnard, California which is near Ventura and the Coast. We've gone to the festival for the past 3 years and I was planning to go again this year - we'll see. My son, Andrew, makes his 1st Holy Communion on 15 May - we'll see if we'll go later on that day or on the 16th.

What do I love about the Strawberry festival? The Strawberries of course! Some of the ripest, tastest Strawberries come out of this festival. The prices for a box of strawberries are resonable. (sp?) It's $3 for a small green plastic container and about $20 for a big case.

Another thing I love about the strawberry festival is that it reminds me of of "New England," a little bit. They offer bands throughout the day, they have plenty of food stands and serve strawberries in ways that I wouldn't think imaginable. There's strawberry pizza, nachos and even kabobs. I love the nachos. hehe. Of course, there's strawberry margeritas and even strawberry beer (which reminds me of BerlinerWeise from Berlin!)

My son, Joe, sipping a strawberry smoothie



There's a playland for the little kids called Strawberryland and one year I even met Strawberry Shortcake. hehe! (Sadly, Andrew didn't want to pose with her because she was a girl!)

There's also an area for vendors to show off their wares. From clothes to jewerly, soap and candles and woodworking you can find a little bit of everything at the festival. The price is cheap to get in $12,00 for adults and $6.00 for kids. It's a homey kid of way to spend the day with the kids.




If you get a chance, check out the festival. I love collecting the festival posters. They always promise to be colorful.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reading Tuesday - What I'm reading


Sadly, I can't read at the house unless I have the day off and the boys are in bed. That's rare. Usually this opportunity strikes on my days. That said, I have to read at work during down time. But that can be a challenge if a I have trainee. I love my trainees, but I need my "me" time and work, if you can believe it, is my "me" time.

That said, the heaves have aligned and I have had time to read lately. I just started J Morgan's "Were Love Blooms." He's got great voice, and "Were Love Blooms" is a paranormal romance about werewolves. I'm picky about my wolves now, but J has me hooked. It's a lighthearted, fun read and I'm curious just how Madison became a wolf.

My next book I'm reading is Gail Delaney's Outcasts. It's a sci-fi speculative futurisic tale and I'm hooked. It takes place in the future on Earth where humans and an alien race called the Aerth live in peaceful coexistance. Col Nick Tanner has just found out that his son is alive after being told he died in childbirth. Guess what - something is afoot. His wife was really Aerth and didn't die in childbirth. And he just found out. I've adored Sci-Fi all my life so this is a great read for me.




Also on the Kindle - Knight of Glory by Nicole Zoltack and One Snowny Knight a medival Scottish romance.

What? You're reading books on a KINDLE? Yep. And I have to admit I LOVE my Kindle. Really love it. I think I'm going to be picky about what books I get in print now and reserve that for the books I really adore.

What are you reading?
Smiles,
Steph

Monday, March 8, 2010

Check out my book trailer for Destination Berlin!



I just want to get a shout out to Kerri Nelson, who put together my book trailer for Destination: Berlin. Kerri did a great job with the music and pics. Destination Berlin is a "sweet" romance as Cpl Sharon Cates makes her way through East Germany, the Stasi hot on her heels, with the help of an unlikely ally - Soviet Jr. Sgt. Dimitri Nagory.

Enjoy the video!
*Smiles*
Steph

Saturday, March 6, 2010

History Saturday - Prince Charles and Princess Diana


Who doesn't love a fairytale come to life? In today's world, when Prince Charles married Diana Spencer, the world thought fairytales did come to life.

It's not my intent to cast the royal couple in a poor light here, but take a look at the romance that led up to their marriage.

Diana Frances Spencer was born in July 1961. Her father was the 8th Earl Spencer. She was his youngest daughter born to Frances Spencer. After her, a son was born in 1964. Her brother's name was Charles.

Diana had quite an interesting pedigree. She was related to Charles II through four of his illegimate sons.



Her parents divorced when she was young. Before meeting Charles "romantically," she received a standard edcuation and in London she took an advanced cooking course at her mother's suggestion, although she never became an adroit cook, and worked first as a dance instructor for youth, until a skiing accident caused her to miss three months of work. She then got a job as a playgroup (pre-preschool) assistant, did some cleaning work for her sister Sarah and several of her friends, and worked as a hostess at parties. It was now 1979.

Prince Charles was born on 14 NOV 1948, the eldest child to Queen Elizabeth. He went to Trinity College and served in the Royal British Navy in the mid 1970's. He was quite the bachelor in the 1970's and was linked romantically to several young ladies.

Charles didn't have it easy growing up. His father was very tough on him. In that regard, his "Uncle Dickie," really played a formative role in his life as a male role model. Unfortunately, he lost his Uncle Dickie in August 1979 when his boat was bombed.

Charles, the Prince of Wales made a dashing figure in his youth. In 1980 though, he was 30 and under pressure to marry. Under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, his marriage required the Queen's formal consent. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, royals must marry within the Church of England or foreit their place in the order of succession to the throne. Diana's aristocratic descent, Church of England faith, presumed virginity and native Englishness appeared to render her a suitable royal bride.




In way, I think these requirements are outdated for modern ways of thinking. I do understand wanting to marry a woman who shares the same faith as you. That's important. But really - did she have to be a virgin? And just how royal did she have to be? What about love? Isn't that important? I think these qualifications will certainlly be relaxed should Prince William propose to Kate Middleton, but I digress.

Prince Charles had known Diana for several years, (he first met her in 1977) but he first took a serious interest in her as a romantic interest, during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. Diana gave him comfort regarding his Uncle's death and I think that made a very important impression on him. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes, aboard the royal yacht Britannia, followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, the Windsor family's Scottish home, to meet his family.

PRINCE CHARLES AT HIS INVESTITURE


Diana was well received at Balmoral by Queen Elizabeth II, by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother. The couple then courted in London. The prince proposed on 6 February 1981, and Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks. They were married on 29 July 1981. Talk about a whirlwind romance. I watched the wedding on TV. It was pretty cool.

We all know married life was no picnic for the Wales. In the 1990's they would divorced and Diana's story ended in sadness when she died in 1997.

In 1982, a movie was made about the Romance of Charles and Diana. You can find excerpts on You Tube. And just for a small time, Charles and Diana made the world believe that fairytales do come true. It was a heartwarming time to believe.



References for this blog:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales

Friday, March 5, 2010

Feature Friday - Interview with Gail Delaney



I'm tickled pink to feature an interview with author and editor, Gail Delaney. Gail is the Editor-in-Chief at Desert Breeze Publishing. And now, here's Gail

***

When I was little, whenever I said something to the effect of "I'll never--", my mother would say "Never say never, kitten."

When her first husband died, she said she'd never get married again. Two years later, she met my father - 18 years her junior and her son's best friend, mind you, but that's a story for another day -- and married him after knowing him 19 days. (I'm telling you... great story!). She said she'd never live in Maine. When I was 2 ½, they moved to Maine. Two 'never evers' that came true, in the happiest of ways for her.

As a writer, I had a mental list of things I would 'never' write, either ever or again. I'd never actually categorized them until one day -- oh, about a year and a half ago -- I realized I was writing a book that completely defied my 'never' list. And I could almost hear my mom... "Never say never, kitten".

My list is as follows:

1. I will not write another contemporary romance. 'They aren't challenging enough'.
2. I will never write a romance set in Hollywood (Said as I make a distasteful face from my freezing cold desk in freezing cold New Hampshire).
3. I will never write a romance with someone famous as a character. Not someone 'real', just a famous profession. No musicians, athletes, actors, etc. It's so cliché.
4. I will never write a novelist as a heroine. How very Mary Sue!
5. I will never have my characters kiss in the first chapter! (This coming after I read a book where the two were kissing before they exchanged names)

I think the beginning of the end happened when I left said 'freezing cold desk in freezing cold New Hampshire' and moved to... yeah... Hollywood. Okay, so not Hollywood, but Southern California just north of Los Angeles... not far from Hollywood. And heck, I think as much movie making happens right here in Santa Clarita as in Hollywood itself. I realized that Hollywood -- geographically -- might be a nice place to set a story.

Then I had a dream. Now I won't go into the details of the dream (blushing cheeks), but the next day I wrote the dream down to share with Jenifer - my BFF and business partner. As it often goes with dreams -- as many writers will attest -- I kept rolling around concepts and ideas in my head, and I kept writing down notes. Next thing I knew, I'd written down Chapter One, and then Chapter Two... and next thing you know... I'm writing the book I said I'd never write. In every way possible.

Point One - No Contemporary Romances

Yep, this book is a contemporary romance. No evil bad guy, unless you count the dastardly, bastardly ex-husband who rears his horned head. No car chases, no murderers to catch. Just a romantic story of love. Oh, and one fist fight. Never gonna do that again... yeah, right.

Point Two - No books set in Hollywood.

I think I've pretty much covered that, but if you need confirmation... yeah, the book is set in Hollywood and near by Santa Clarita - which, ironically enough, is where I now live. * wry grin *

Point Three - No books with famous-type characters

David Bishop is the hero of this romantic tale, and were he a real man, he'd be the romantic hero in many a woman's dreams. In my little world, he is the hottest, sexiest, most sought after bachelor and celebrity in Hollywood. Okay, maybe not THE most... but he's right up there. And if you must ask... I know you're wondering... yes, he's 'modeled' after an actor whom I find sinfully delicious.

Maybe I'll tell you who... if you ask nicely. 

Point Four - Never write a novelist as a heroine.

Andrea Parker is not only a novelist, but she's a bestselling novelist. Her science fiction romances are so loved by the general population that they've been opted for film. And you guessed it... David Bishop will play her leading man.

Point Five - Never let them kiss in chapter one!

Yeah, well... I find there are ways around this little 'never'.

For about half the writing of this book, I referred to it as 'The book I'm not writing'. Finally, I gave in and admitted that yes... I'm writing this book... yes, it's got all the things I said I'd never do... and yes, I absolutely love it. I honestly believe that Something Better is easily the most 'romantic' of romances I've written. Fluttering hearts and deep sighs will abound as you read... and yet, it won't be easy for these two. It wouldn't be an interesting novel if things were easy.

I hope you might be intrigued enough to check it out and read Something Better.

Here's a link to the book trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uHKKi7hmzE

***
Thanks for popping in, Gail! I'm definately intrigued to read it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

California Thursday - The San Fernando Mission


I don't know a lot about California history, but every week, I discover something new. This week though, I thought I'd look at something in my backyard - the Missions - and today, specifically, the San Fernando Mission.

I'm not quite sure of the dates, but early in California's history, and I believe this occured in the 1700's several Catholic priests traveled up from Mexico and wherever they stopped, they established a mission. The mission trail is called "El Camino Real" and there are a lot of missions that go up and down the California coast from San Diego all the way to San Fransiciso.

THE INTERIOR OF THE MISSION
(NOTE: A couple years ago I had a chance to attending a wedding here and I was very touched by the service.)


The San Fernando Mission is in Mission Hills in Los Angeles, about 20 minutes south of my home. The pictures of it capture that authenthic old style feel of past. I love to visit there because they have a Catholic store and I can go get my religous books and items there. I bought both my son's baptism candles there. The Mission also hosts wedding and quineneras (probably spelled wrong - but it is a Hispanic custom where a 15 year old girl is recoginzed as an adult, similiar to the sweet 16 custom that is more known about)


THE HISTORY OF IT:
Mission San Fernando Rey de España was founded on "The Feast of the Birth of Mary" (September 8), 1797. The prime location the padre selected, located along the principal highway leading to the Pueblo de Los Angeles, had been occupied by Francisco Reyes (then Los Angeles' mayor). However, after brief negotiations construction of the first buildings was soon underway (Mission records list Reyes as godfather to the first infant baptized at San Fernando).

INTERESTING NOTE: In 2003 comedian Bob Hope was interred in the Bob Hope Memorial Gardens.




The goal of the missions was, above all, to become self-sufficient in relatively short order. Farming, therefore, was the most important industry of any mission.

Information for this blog entry was taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_San_Fernando_Rey_de_Espa%C3%B1a

Monday, March 1, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Destination: Berlin



Stuck in a routine job in Cold War Germany guarding nuclear weapons. U.S. Army Corporal Sharon Cates thinks she is going to Berlin to attend an orientation tour. Unknown to her, the briefcase she carries contains top-secret information that the Stasi and KGB are willing to kill for.

Russian Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory is an assistant to a high-ranking Soviet officer in his country’s embassy in England. Dimitri isn’t expecting a great adventure as he boards the duty train for a routine trip to headquarters in Berlin, and he certainly isn’t expecting to meet any Americans.

The Stasi derail the train in the middle of East Germany, expecting to take the information from Sharon’s dead body. The sparks fly when Sharon and Dimitri meet. When the sudden explosion hurls Sharon and Dimitri from the train and into each other, he too becomes a target. With Sharon nursing badly bruised ribs and branded by her country as a traitorous thief for stealing top-secret documents, Dimitri goes against everything he’s been trained to do when he offers to help her to Berlin. Can Sharon trust Dimitri or will he break her heart?


Author Bio: New Hampshire native SG Cardin (also writing as Stephanie Burkhart) spent more than seven years stationed overseas in Europe as member of the Army’s Military Police Corps. Currently she lives in California and works as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She’s married with two boys, 7 & 3.


“A tautly written military adventure.” – Midwest Book Review


There's a little bit of everything mixed into this story. There's history, adventure, suspense, romance and of course so military jargon. The author does a good job though, of simplifying the military lingo, so that it never becomes a burden to understand. The story flows well, and moves along quickly. If you're looking for a good story to keep you occupied for a night or two, I'd highly recommend this one. – Book of the Moment Reviewer

Destination Berlin is a military thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. - Starrstruck


EXCERPT:

Spies. Espionage. Danger. The Berlin duty train hinted at it all, as it carried the four allies between the West and occupied Berlin. Corporal Sharon Cates was high on the potential thrill, but her military common sense kept her anchored to the fact that hints rarely ever gave way to facts.

She walked through the doors and into the duty train’s dining car, wearing her class “A” uniform. It was relatively empty. A lone concession window was open selling coffee and brötchen. She bought a cup and sat down next to a window. It was dark outside, and she couldn’t see much. Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was two o’clock. Sharon knew she should be asleep, but she was too excited. Soon she’d be in Berlin, and she was thrilled. Going to Berlin would be stepping into living history. She put her briefcase on the table and took out a guidebook to Berlin, thumbing through it as she drank her coffee.

A faint creak pierced the air. When Sharon looked up, she spied a Soviet soldier also buying a cup of coffee. A warm shiver slid down her spine. After all, she knew the Soviets also used the duty train; she just thought she’d never see one. He was tall and filled out his uniform well. From the markings on his uniform, she gathered he was a non-commissioned officer, but that was all. To her surprise, he approached her booth.

“Good morning, Corporal. I am Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory of the Soviet Army. May I join you?”

Sharon looked up. He was talking to her—in English! She motioned to him to have a seat.

Dimitri sat down and smiled. “If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your name, Corporal?”

“ Sharon,” she answered, as distantly as possible. She never thought she’d meet a Soviet soldier on the Berlin Duty Train. This felt like a page out of a LeCarre spy novel. “Sharon Cates.”

“Is this your first time on the duty train?” he asked.

Sharon stared at him. Nosey Soviet. Cpt. Heathers had cautioned her about them during her security briefing.

“Because it is the first time I have seen you,” Dimitri continued, sipping his coffee.

“Ah, yes,” Sharon finally answered. Should she finally entertain those thoughts of espionage and secret spy scenarios? “It’s my first trip to Berlin,” she added.

“I see. Are you attending the Berlin Orientation Tour?”

“How did you know?”

“Most of the Americans I see on the train travel to Berlin for that purpose,” Dimitri explained, grinning.

“If you don’t mind my asking, why are you on the train?” Despite the desire to keep her composure, her lips curved into an inquisitive smile.

“I work in the Soviet embassy in London. My headquarters are in East Berlin. I travel between London and Berlin every two weeks,” he answered.

“And you can tell me that?” she asked, raising a surprised eyebrow.

“It’s common knowledge,” he added.

“Do you make it a habit to talk to Americans on the train?” Sharon asked.

“No, I don’t. I usually sleep in my train car, but I haven’t had much to eat today so they let me out to do that,” he replied.

“Touché,” she said curtly. “So, Jr. Sgt. Nagory, what do you do in your army?”

*****
Destination: Berlin is available at: http://www.amazon.com and http://www.iuniverse.com