A Gentleman and a Rogue

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Tidbit - The Wolf Moon


Believe it or not, just about every phase of the moon has a name. The names come from different cultures. In December last moon, there were two full moon phases in the moon. The first full moon is known as a Christmas Moon. (From Colonial American Tradtions) The 2nd full moon, which rarely happens is known as a Blue Moon because its the 2nd recoccuring moon in the month. This month, in January, it is known as a Wolf Moon.

And you know how I love wolves. hehe

The Wolf Moon comes from the Native Americans and it's named because of how the wolves used to howl at the moon on cold winter nights.

Interesting Tidbit: The lunar cycle is roughtly 29 days.

Tonight's moon will be especially bigger than most. Why? Taken from Yahoo: The moon is, on average, 238,855 miles (384,400 km) from Earth. The moon's orbit around Earth – which causes it to go through all its phases once every 29.5 days – is not a perfect circle, but rather an ellipse. One side of the orbit is 31,070 miles (50,000 km) closer than the other.


So in each orbit, the moon reaches this closest point to us, called perigee. Once or twice a year, perigee coincides with a full moon, as it will tonight, making the moon bigger and brighter than any other full moons during the year.

The Moon over Turin, Italy, Dec 2009



Taken from the Native American culture is a list of the Full Moons for the upcoming year:

FEB 2010 - Snow Moon
MAR 2010 - Worm Moon
Interesting Note: In 2010 this is also the Paschal Full Moon; the first full Moon of the spring season. The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed six days later on Sunday, April 4.

APR 2010 - Pink Moon
MAY 2010 - Flower Moon
JUN 2010 - Strawberry Moon
JUL 2010 - Buck Moon
AUG 2010 - Sturgeon Moon
SEP 2010 - Harvest Moon
Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (fall) Equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September, but (on average) once or twice a decade it will fall in early October.

OCT 2010 - Hunter's Moon
NOV 2010 - Beaver's Moon
DEC 2010 - Cold Moon


Reference for this blog entry:http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20100129/sc_space/biggestandbrightestfullmoonof2010tonight

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Promo Wednesday - Review for Destination: Berlin


This Review is from "Book of the Moment Reviewer." and is on Berlin's Amazon Page.

*******

After reading the back of this book, I was feeling a little iffy as I started it. Sometimes military stories catch my attention, and other times I get overwhelmed by the lingo and the violence and quickly lose interest. "Destination: Berlin," kept my rapt attention from the first page through to the last though. As I finished the story I realized with a smile that I actually quite enjoyed it.

Sharon Cates is a model American soldier stationed in Germany. On her way to attend a routine orientation tour in Berlin, she meets a Russian soldier named Dimitri. The two share a meal and agree to put aside their military and political differences and "be friends for the day."

Shortly thereafter, an explosion derails the train, mildly injuring Cates. After overhearing a conversation by the train bombers, Dimitri quickly realizes that Cates is carrying more than just her identification papers in her briefcase. Somewhere in that case, unbeknownst to her, are nuclear launch codes that people are willing to kill to get their hands on.

Injured and completely confused, Cates finds herself with few options other than following the enemy soldier to safety. From here we follow Cates and Dimitri as they attempt to get to a safe and neutral part of the country; all the while hoping to guard the codes and prove Cates had no knowledge of the codes being in her briefcase at all.

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.

4 Stars
Book of the Moment

*****
Here's a link to Berlin's Amazon Page:
http://www.amazon.com/Destination-Berlin-S-Cardin/dp/0595164196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264608108&sr=8-1

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What I'm reading Tuesday - The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife


I just love Jillian Hunter. I first discovered her when I read "The Wicked Games of Gentleman" about Drake Boscastle and Eloise. For me, she had the perfect blend of plot, suspense, historical stuff, and romance. I've read her entires series. Some stories were hit or miss, some I really enjoyed, some not as much, but I love her writing. It's an easy style to read. Her latest book, "The Wicked Duke take a Wife" is one that I'm currently reading and enjoying.

The heroine is Harriet Gardner from Emma and Adrian's story. Harriet has cleaned up nicely at Emma's school and helps Charlotte. Enter Griffin Boscastle. He has just inherited the title of "Duke of Glenmorgan" He drops off his neice, Edlyn at Emma's academy and meets Harriet. Let's just say the soot flies between them.

The build between Griffin and Harriet is fun. Both are attracted to each, and each are haunted by demons. Hunter ties in the novel "Frankenstein" as well, giving the novel depth. I'm about 1/3 into the book. Harriet has gone to work for Griffin's aunt, Lady Powlis and Lady Powlis gives as good as she takes. And I can't help but cheer for Harriet. She's come a long way.

Any Boscastle fans out there?
Smiles
Steph

Monday, January 25, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Royal Pretender



Here's an excerpt of a short story I submitted to CRR's "The Cupid Diaries." The story is Royal Pretender and it is about how George II of England met his wife. The Cupid Diaries is coming soon from CRR.

*********

Caroline Wilhelmina, Princess of Ansbach, stared listlessly out of the window of her apartments and watched as a strange, yet royal carriage slowly approached. She was mildly curious. They rarely received visitors in small Ansbach and not at the summer residence where it was barely staffed.

Caroline sighed and ran a hand through her fine, blonde hair. If only she weren’t so melancholy over losing her mother figure, Sophia Charlotte. Her own mother had died when she was eleven and Sophia Charlotte had raised her until her own death a couple of months ago. She missed Berlin, Sophia Charlotte’s court, Leibniz, the great court recorder, and the gaiety Sophia Charlotte brought to her life. Caroline left Berlin in sadness after her death to join her brother in Ansbach, but nothing seemed to help her mood. Even taking a short holiday at Triesdorf with her brother made her long for happier times.

She noticed the carriage stop. Two men and a valet got out. Noblemen? One was old, and one was…very young. Her inquisitive eyes came to rest on the young nobleman. How confident he must be in himself that he didn’t wear a wig. She liked that about a man. He was a little short, her height, she guessed, still, that didn’t deter her from staring at him. His neat, tapered haircut and his immaculate clothes caught her attention. He took pride in himself and his appearance. Soft shaped almond eyes spoke of his kindness. His cheeks were full of color and his lively expression hinted at his vitality. Even his lips seemed full and pouty. Lips fine enough to kiss. Caroline felt her heart flutter as she realized he was a very good-looking young man.

Get hold of yourself, Caroline!

She reached out and put her hand on her window sill to brace her now unsteady feet.

From her spot, she saw her brother go out to meet the travelers. They talked for several minutes and the men followed her brother inside. Nervous trepidation filled her. Did William seriously expect to entertain? Their staff consisted only of a butler, maid, and cook here at the summer residence!

She walked over to her washbasin and filled a bowl with water, washing her face. Within minutes there was a knock at the door.

********

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New England Sunday - Old Sturbridge Village

Center Village in Winter Time


I remember my earliest visit to Old Sturbridge, I think I was in the 5th grade. I never forget this place. I next visited when I was in the Army, on leave in the late 1980's, early 1990's. I took my dh here shortly after I got married and shared this special with him.

So what is Old Sturbridge Village? It's a reenactment of a New England town from the 1830's located in Massachusetts. It is more than 200 acres. You can tour the entire town to see what life was like in early New England! The different shops are populated with actors who reenact characters from that time!

It's a great place to go and learn about colonial New England. For me, it was like stepping into history.
A Stagecoach



The Village opened on 8 June 1946. It was the dream of AB Wells and his son George. AB was an antique collector and had collected so many antiques he needed to find a place to do something with them. His son, George, suggested opening up a "living" history exhibit, hence the birth of OSV.

These are the following shops in OSV:

Old Sturbridge Village has over 40 structures, including restored buildings purchased and relocated from across New England and some authentic reconstructions.

The village is divided into three main sections. The Center Village represents the center of town, with the town green as its focal point. Countryside consists of outlying farms and shops. The Mill Neighborhood features various commercial structures that rely upon a millpond for their power.

The Center Village contains the following structures:

Friends Meetinghouse - a meetinghouse of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers

Center Meetinghouse - churches often served as a location for town meetings, elections, lectures, and political events

Tin Shop - tin, purchased from England was used to make a variety of household goods
Salem Towne House - a prosperous farmer's home

Law Office - a small, free-standing office of a lawyer

Parsonage - the home of a Congregational minister and his family

Asa Knight Store - a country store, transported from its original location in Vermont.

Thompson Bank - a bank that was originally located in Thompson, CT

Fenno House - an historic house with exhibits that highlight domestic textile production

Fitch House - the residence with exhibit elements that highlight children and family life Printing Office




Cider Mill - a horse-powered mill for the production of hard cider

Shoe Shop - an historic ten footer, which was a small backyard shop structure built in the 18th and 19th centuries in New England to serve as a shoemaker's shop.

Town Pound - for the confinement of livestock wandering around town or on other farmer's property

Bullard Tavern - an early 1800s tavern room

Small House - a small home based on those of less affluent families, people of color, newlyweds, and renters

The Stage Coach - On May 23, 2008, a stage coach marked "Hartford & Worcester" started making trips through Center Village. Guests can ride in the stagecoach for $3.00 per rider.


Info for this blog entry came from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Sturbridge_Village

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Nip o' History Saturday - Queen in Waiting



I'd always been a little interested in History growing up the book that ignited my passion was called "Queen In Waiting" by Jean Plaidy. Jean Plaidy was a pen name for one of my favorite authors, Victoria Holt.

I discovered this book back in 1988 when I was waiting for the Berlin Duty Train in Bremerhaven in July. I sat in front of the Bahnhof, reading my book, so involved in the story, I hardly noticed the buzz around me.

Queen in Waiting is about George II and his romance with his wife, Caroline of Ansbach. It is the early 1700's and George Augustus is a young man in his early 20's and the Crown Prince of the Electorship of Hanover. George Augustus's father, George Lewis, the current Elector, is set to inherit the British throne since Anne Stewart has no heirs (And that's another fascinating story I can't wait to tell, but it's for another Saturday.)

George Lewis had a miserable marriage to George Augustus's mother, Sophia Doreathera. It was so miserable, he divorced her and put her up in Ahlen Tower where she lived a long life and died there. Because of this experience, he wanted his son, George Augustus to make a love match.

Personally speaking, that was RARE for royality and it was rare for a father to want his son to make a love match. That said George Lewis "pumped" his aged mother, the Dowager Electress Sophia for who might make a good match. She suggested Caroline of Ansbach. Ansbach was a small German city in southern Germany. Caroline was a noble lady and George Lewis thought she might work out for his son.

He dispatched George Augustus with his old governor to Ansbach. But there was a catch. George Augustus went in disguise. This way if he didn't like Caroline, he could refuse to marry her and no one would no the better.

When George Augustus met Caroline, who was his age, blonde, blue eyed and totally HOT he fell half way off the cliff. As he got to know her, he fell completely off. She was drop dead gorgeous and had a sweet, charming personality to boot. In haste, he left her, traveled to Hanover and told his father he wanted to marry her.

Immediately George Lewis dispatched a formal party to ask for her marriage. When Caroline was told the dashing young nobleman named Monsieur deBusch was really George Augustus, the crown prince of Hanover she said "yes!" to the marriage proposal. She had fallen completely in love with the young, dashing man herself.

If you want to read my historical fiction account of the "Royal Pretender," it will be in the upcoming Cupid Diaries put out through CRR.

Isn't love romantic?
Steph

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Promo Wednesday - Review for The Wolf's Torment


FICTION: ROMANCE / FANTASY

The Wolf’s Torment
S.G. Cardin
iUniverse
355 pages
Softcover $20.95
ISBN: 978-0-595-41733-9
4 stars

A good romantic novel is not the massed-produced formulaic massively consumed quickie book commonly known as a “Bodice Ripper.” A romantic novel is more than thin plot lines designed to get the main characters from one sexual congress to the next.

S. G. Cardin’s debut novel, The Wolf’s Torment, is a romantic novel without being a clichéd ridden “romance” novel. With elements of historical fiction combined with the gothic supernatural, The Wolf’s Torment is in the similar vein as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witch Chronicles, but the story is also convoluted like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations as well as dark Arthurian undertones. It is an erotically charged novel with powerful sexual scenes that are not gratuitous, but necessary for the development of character and plot.

Cardin’s hero, child Prince Mihai Sigmaringen of Moldavia in the 1800s, watches helplessly as his mother is murdered by an evil witch. An older Mihai realizes that he lives in country with real monsters, and the modernization and unification of Romania is the only way to rid Eastern Europe of these ancient evils. Cardin writes, “He had a future to fulfill… He would modernize the country and drive out such beings as witches and werewolves that would have the rest of the world think his country as uncultured.”


But the ancient evil persists, and Mihai’s best friend Victor, who he met in England while attending university, is bitten by a werewolf. When the beast overcomes the man, Victor’s werewolf nature invades his humanity and he betrays Mihai.

Mihai makes his own betrayals: to see his plans reach fruition he submits to an arranged marriage to the Lady Theresa von Kracken, even though Alexandra, his gold-digging mistress from London, is pregnant with his baby. Theresa believes that Mihai is the prince that her precognitive dreams had shown her as a child.

After the death of his father, Mihai is crowned King and Theresa becomes his queen. Like Lancelot and Guinevere who betray King Arthur’s trust, Victor has his way with Queen Theresa—the difference being Victor drugs Theresa and takes advantage of her vulnerability. Unlike Guinevere, she never stops being deeply in love with her husband.

The story turns desperate as King Mihai relentlessly drags a reluctant Moldavia into a modern age, even while chthonic forces attempt to pull Moldavia out of enlightenment and back into the darkness of magic, fear and superstition.

Cardin has provided a Q and A session as well as deleted scenes and discussion issues. Readers that enjoy fast-paced novels with some scares and mystery will find themselves waiting impatiently for a sequel to this historical and supernatural romance.

Reviewed by Lee Gooden
ForeWord Clarion Reviews

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Pat on the Back Award from Celia Yeary



Over the past year, I've had the privilege to get to know Texas author, Celia Yeary. Celia's been an inspiration to me in how she writes, promotes, and sells books. She's so down to earth and approachable. Just recently, I got a "Pat on the Back Award from her and I thought I'd passed that on myself. If anyone wants to check out Celia's blog you can find it:

http://celiayeary.blogspot.com

Our blogs are our "brand" as much as our books. So, there's a lovely little award going around that encourages readers to at least take a peek at our blogs. The award doesn't come with a banner or a sticker—it's an honorary thing.

First, I'll tell seven things about myself. Then, I'll list seven blogs I believe are worthy of a visit from you—any of you. My seven blogs consist of several I read on a regular basis, and the others are new blogs I have recently discovered. Next, I'll contact each of my seven authors and tell them their blog is on my list. Hopefully, each will do the same thing.


7 THINGS ABOUT ME:

#1 - I was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire.

#2 - I joined the U.S. Army 1986 as an MP.

#3 - I been all over Europe visiting Paris, Berlin, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

#4 - I was married in Nykobig, Denmark in 1991.

#5 - I have a B.S. in Political Science from California Baptist University with a minor in Socialogy. I was also selected as the Outstanding Evening College Student that year.

#6 - I now live in California and work as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD

#7 - One of my favorite places I've visited in America were the manisions in Newport, RI.

Here's the 7 blogs I give I "Pat on the Back to."

#1 - http://www.thepenmuse.com/

#2 - http://lindsaysromantics.blogspot.com

#3 - http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/

#4 - http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/

#5 - http://www.typosandall.com/

#6 - http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com/

#7 - http://monarisk.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Excerpt - Destination: Berlin


THE SET UP: After sending the night in a farm house, Sharon asks Dimitri if she can see a doctor.

********

Through the cracks in the loft, she spotted Dimitri checking out the farmhouse. She wondered what he’d found. Again, she took another deep breath. How would she ever be up for a ninety kilometer hike to Berlin? If her ribs were okay, her lungs would feel better by now. Certainly she had more energy after her rest, but it still hurt to breathe. She wondered if her father ever had a night like this when he was in the military. He didn’t talk much about being in Vietnam, but when he had, he never told a disparaging story.

Dimitri climbed the ladder to the loft. “You’re up.”

“Yep. I’m up. What now?” she asked.

“I went and did a check of the area.”

“What did you find?” She was curious.

“There is a canal nearby. I think it’s the Havel-Elbe. The farmhouse is deserted for the moment. I believe it is market day and they have gone into town. The inside of the house contains photos of a couple in their youth, very old style clothing and hair. I believe the residents are an older couple.”

“Well, it’s about noon,” said Sharon, glancing at her watch. “I guess we should move on soon.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Not good,” she answered. “I was hoping to see a doctor.”

Dimitri frowned. “I can’t see how that would be possible. If we see a doctor, we’re opening ourselves up to be discovered.”

Sharon was quiet for a moment.

“I’m in pretty good shape,” she began, “but this injury is making it hard for me to keep up. The pain it’s causing is taking away my strength. Is there a chance we can just pop in somewhere for a minute – long enough to secure some painkillers?”

“You see,” he began, “in this part of the world, you cannot enter a town without an ausweise. If you want medical treatment, you must present the card. As you know, we have no such thing for you.”

She thought for a moment. “In America, we need insurance cards. If we don’t have them, doctors will accept payment directly. Is it possible that a German doctor would do the same?”

“But in your uniform, surely someone would notice you.”

She took off her awards and her shoulder boards. “Maybe it’ll look passable if I take these off,” she said optimistically. “After all, without my shoulder boards and awards, you don’t know for sure what I am.”

“I don’t know, let me think about it,” said Dimitri awkwardly.

“Sure.”

He gestured for Sharon to follow him. They left the loft and Dimitri went into the farmhouse and gathered some food from the kitchen, bread and fruit. He also took some rope and a couple of rags. He put them in a duffle bag that he carried over his shoulder. They stuffed what they could in her briefcase. As they walked along the wood line, he removed his rank and insignia from his uniform, so it appeared he was just wearing a brown shirt and slacks.

“Here is your ausweise,” he said. “Today you are Gertha Braun. I am your husband, Wolfgang.”

“So…does this mean you thought about it? Are we going to see the doctor?” she asked with a smile.

“Yes.”

“Maybe I should be the mute Gertha Braun?” Sharon suggested. “Gertha has a bit of a language barrier. About the only thing I can do is read a menu in German.”

“I thought of that,” Dimitri said. “It’s not so unusual that the women don’t speak for themselves. I’ll do the talking.”

“Okay.”

“Hohenseeden is the next town we will come to and the Stasi will have alerted the Polizei, but not the general public of the train derailment. To the general public we will be strangers on market day. We’ll have to be careful to avoid the Polizei,” explained Dimitri.

“We have time on our side. The Stasi will be scrambling their resources to find us and they’ll be spread out,” added Sharon.

“Still, we cannot afford even one mistake,” Dimitri added. He directed them along a wooded path, which would lead to the next town. As they walked, it became silent between them, and Sharon discovered she didn’t like the silence. She wanted to know more about her accomplice, but she wasn’t quite sure where to start. They seemed to have nothing in common.

“You’re quiet all of a sudden,” said Dimitri.

“Sorry, I was just thinking about my family.”

“Oh?”

“My father in particular. He was in the army, too – in Vietnam.”

“I see.”

“You remember when you asked me, back on the train, why I joined the army?”

“Yes. You said for the funding of your education.”

“I could have gone to college when I graduated high school. You see, my father was an infantry lieutenant and he volunteered to go to Vietnam. His career was cut short when a grenade exploded in his hand. He came home with a prosthetic hand. It was hard for him at first,” explained Sharon.

“I’m sorry. Was he distant?”

“Yeah. He thought we didn’t understand. I was five at the time. I remember missing him when he was gone. I was so happy to have him home, I didn’t care that he had a prosthetic hand,” she added. The sun beat down through the trees its heat adding to her nervousness.

“At least he came home,” Dimitri said.

**********
5 Stars, Midwest Book Review
You can buy Destination: Berlin at:
http://www.amazon.com
http://iuniverse.com

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review Friday - Christmas Stranger


Here's my review for "Christmas Stranger" by Marion Kelley Bullock. It's also posted on Ezines, & Go Articles.

Written by: Marion Kelley Bullock
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-936000-46-3
$4.99
Ebook format
4 Stars



Bullock pens a sweet, inspirational, American historical romance with “Christmas Stranger.” Rich in setting, this story of a Missouri postmistress is one that captures the spirit of Christmas and reminds us today why Christmas is so important.

The story takes place in 19th Century America and opens with a fierce snowstorm engulfing the small town of Primrose, Missouri. Melinda Jane Frazier is the postmistress of the town and lives alone. Her father, who she had cared for, has just recently died. In the howling winter wind, she hears a knock. Answering the door with a gun in her hand, she discovers a wanderer named Zeke, and his son, Timothy, needing shelter. Melinda takes them in. When the storm dies down, a grateful Zeke offers to help Melinda around the farm. Zeke goes to live in the lean-to next to the home. Timothy, who is seven, also settles in, helping his Pa do chores. Since Christmas is around the corner, Zeke and Timothy stay with Melinda during the holidays. Timothy makes new friends in Primrose, and Zeke grows to admire Melinda. After the holidays, Zeke, unnerved by the growing intensity of his feelings for Melinda, turns back to his wandering ways and leaves. Only time will tell if Zeke can find his way back to Melinda.

Bullock’s style is easy to read and keeps the reader engaged. Her descriptions are vivid and rich in detail, from the setting to the smells in the kitchen, helping to capture the authencity of the story. Her dialogue and character accents are well done and gives the reader a feel for the times.

Zeke and Melinda are well developed characters and the reader can easily understand their motivations. Zeke is an honest man at heart, but has to reconcile his need for wandering with a desire for a family. In that regard, Melinda offers him her father’s Bible, so he can draw inspiration from it. Not prone to read the Bible, after Zeke has a disturbing encounter with a farmer’s daughter, he goes to it to help draw strength for the decision he has to make.

Melinda is loyal, hardworking and honest, traits to be admired in a historical American character. Melinda’s desire for a family is one many can connect with. The supporting cast is also well rounded and fun to read about.

“Christmas Stranger” is “sweet” for romance readers with Zeke and Melinda exchanging longing glances and a gentle kiss. Overall, “Christmas Stranger” is a tender, inspirational read that will warm the reader’s heart.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A California Tidbit - San Diego, CA

SAN DIEGO AT NIGHT

I’ve been to San Diego on several occasions since moving to California in 1997 and it’s a great city. I’ve seen the Padres play the Dodgers down in Petco Stadium, I’ve been to the NFL experience hosted at Qualicom one year. I’ve also been to the Zoo and Sea World. There’s so much to see and do there, you need two or three quality days to just hang out.

San Diego is the 2nd largest city in California and the 9th largest in the US. It’s population is over 1.2 million.

San Diego is the southern end of the El Camino Real, a trail the monks took which established missions along with the way. The mission in San Diego is called Mission San Diego de Alcalá. It was founded by Junipero Sierra in 1769. In 1976, Pope Paul VI had it declared a minor basilica. Over the centuries it’s seen its fair share of war. In 1860’s when it was returned to the Catholic Church, it was in ruins. Today it’s a landmark and a thriving parish.

THE MISSION IN SAN DIEGO


San Diego has a rich military history. San Diego is the site of one of the largest naval fleets in the world, and San Diego has become the largest concentration of Naval facilities in the world due to base reductions at Norfolk, Virginia and retrenchment of the Russian naval base in Vladivostok. Two of the U.S. Navy's Nimitz class supercarriers, (the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan), five amphibious assault ships, several Los Angeles-class "fast attack" submarines, the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy, carrier and submarine tenders, destroyers, cruisers, frigates, and many smaller ships are home-ported there. Four Navy vessels have been named USS San Diego in honor of the city.

Currently, the USS Midway, a decommissioned air craft carrier that was last “in service” during the 1st Gulf War is down in San Diego. My husband and I are planning a trip down there in April to see it.

One of San Diego’s premium attractions is Sea World, home of Shamu the killer whale. There are plenty of ocean life exhibits in Sea World. Of course my favorite is Shamu, but I also like visiting the dolphins and penguins. They also have a Budweiser exhibit as well. Another attraction is the zoo. Some of China’s famous pandas stay at the San Diego zoo.

SHAMU AT SEA WORLD



The downtown area has captured an old town feel with it’s use of gas lamps and it’s often called the Gas lamp district. San Diego is less than 20 minutes away from Mexico and Tijuana.

If you’ve gone to San Diego, I’d love to hear about your trip and what you enjoyed about the city. For me, San Diego is an hidden jewel on the California coast.

References for this blog entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SeaWorld_San_Diego
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_San_Diego_de_Alcal%C3%A1

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Promo Wednesday - Review for Across The Fickle Winds of History


This is a review by Shannon Yarbourgh from Lulu Book Reviews for "Across The Fickle Winds of History." Enjoy. You can visit the following link to order the book. Smiles, Steph

To order Across The Fickle Winds of History:
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/across-the-fickle-winds-of-history/1572128


**********

I admire historical fiction that draws from real facts from our history books and presents new theories on events or fills in the gaps history skipped over. S. G. Cardin has written such a book called Across the Fickle Winds of History. Now, with a title and book cover like that, I knew I wanted to read it.

The book focuses on the last years of the Imperial Russian Family known as the Romanovs. Those of you who enjoyed the 1997 animated film called Anastasia will be quite familiar with this story. Although Anastasia was the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II, Cardin focuses on the eldest daughter, Olga. The story spans from 1913 to 1918 and is told through entries in Olga’s diary. While living in the Winter Palace, Olga and her sisters discover three strangers on the palace property. Though the Romanov girls fear the young strangers might be Bolshevik spies, Olga takes a certain interest in one of them named Paul. Olga is torn between her attraction to Paul and the fact that she could inherit the throne should something happen to her father. Political upheavals in Russia put strain on Olga and Paul’s courtship as her family begins to suffer from stress caused by the mad mystic monk, Rasputin.

Cardin has done a magnificent job of developing Olga into a complex character filled with love and compassion for her father and for Paul. The author’s descriptions are quite beautiful, painting a picture of Russia in a much different light. From the first World War to a grand ball at the palace, Cardin breathes a certain life into her characters and setting that make this short novella quite intense. In fact, my biggest complaint would be that it is too short (under 200 pages) and leaves a bit of detail up to the readers to go research on their own. I would have enjoyed at least another 200 pages where the author paints more thorough story lines for Olga’s siblings, her parents, or even more back story about Paul.

Though history states their lives ended tragically after the Romanov family was taken captive during the Russian Revolution of 1917, Cardin adds a bit of time travel flare to the end suggesting that not all of the Romanov children might have been killed with the rest of their family. The book ends with a diary entry from Anastasia leaving the reader with a bit of hope for a happier ending, rather than the sad truth we know truly existed for the Romanov dynasty.

In the end of the book, Cardin has published an FAQ. Here Cardin states she became fascinated with Russian history in high school and Olga was a natural choice for point of view for her book since Olga was the eldest and so outgoing. One can only wonder what history might have been like had Olga succeeded to the throne, and I’m sure that is something this author has thought about. But as Cardin suggest, history is indeed fickle and the wind doesn’t always blow in our direction

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday's Reading - Under a Viking Moon



Ever have some books sneak up on you? That's how I feel about this one, "Under a Viking Moon," by Tami Dee.

The book is published by Desert Breeze Publishing and that's how I found out about it since Tami's a fellow Desert Breeze author. The initial attraction to me, was of course, the cover. It's gorgeous, PLUS it's got the moon on it and anyone who knows me knows I LOVE the moon. You can do so many things with it in your stories. hehe. (smiles)

So the cover had me intrigued. Sadly, restrictions on my time forced me to put it off and put it off and put it off until....

Tami posted an excerpt for her new book in the series, "Dawn of a Viking Sunrise" and I was like wow - I have to stop putting this off.

That day I went to the Kindle store and downloaded "Under a Viking Moon." It's the first book in the series and I figured I better start with the first book.

(Yes - it's an ebook and I'm reading it on my Kindle. I love my Kindle by the way and with a little help from Mobi Pocket, I can read PDF files, too.)

In the book, Jarl Leif is getting married in 900 AD. Unfortunately, his bride marries him attacks him and throws him overboard, leaving him for dead.

Leif turns up on the beach in San Franscisco in 2006. The woman giving him mouth to mouth is a DROP DEAD LOOK ALIKE for his traitorious bride.

After Leif and Katla get over their intial shock, Lief appears to be adjusting to life in 2006 with Katla's help.

I am really enjoying the story. I love time travel and I love historicals, for me, that's the appeal of the book. The characters are interesting and Leif gets a "Poor Leif" award from me for all that he's been through.

Kudos to Tami for putting together a great book. I'm where Katla is attacked at the dry cleaners. She's lost her job there and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Hopefully, my trainee won't come to work tonight...

Smiles
Steph

Monday, January 11, 2010

Excerpt Monday - The Peenemunde Secret


I got a Lovely Blog award from Anne Patrick the other day for my post about the Hearst Castle. I have to admit I was tickled pink. Thank you very much, Anne. hehe. Here's a link to Anne's Blog: Suspense by Anne



Here's a link for my short story, "The Peenemunde Secret." It was an Honorable Mention Winner in the Writer's Digest 2008 Popular Fiction Constest in the Thriller/Suspense category. Just recently, I offered it as a free read for the Desert Breeze Scavenger Hunt. You can find the complete story at my website.


Baltic Sea
September 1942

The heels of his boots clanked against the metal companionway of the British submarine, the HMS Mountbatten. The ship was close to the surface, rocking gently from side to side under the waves as the storm rolled over the south Baltic Sea. The autumn chill made him shiver.

The sub was running on minimal power to avoid detection. This would be a dangerous insertion.


They had to avoid the German sub, Hindenburg, patrolling the quadrant.

"Leftantant Kent, I've got your final instructions."

John Kent's eyes cut in the direction of the voice. "Captain Rathcliff."

Rathcliff held up a sealed envelope. Kent stepped into the small, dimly lit captain's room.

"How do I look, Sir?" Kent asked.

Rathcliff's eyes raked over him. "You look good, Kent. Just like a German sailor."

Kent smiled. That was part of the ruse. Hopefully the foreign uniform and his command of the German language would be convincing when he got to shore. There was a small military base on the German Baltic coast in Peeneműnde. British Intel believed the Germans were developing a massive secret weapon. It was Kent's mission to get on the island, infiltrate the base, and obtain information about it.


Rathcliff handed him a small sealed plastic bag. "We've been ordered to patrol the Baltic for two weeks. We'll be listening for a signal from you on these frequencies."

Kent took the bag and tucked it into his uniform breast pocket. "Any word on the Hindenburg?"

"It's in top shape. We're lucky we've gotten this far without being detected tonight."

"The weather has helped to give us cover."

"It's still dangerous. The ship's taking a pounding. She'll be good for it, but the crew is nervous."

"I understand," said Kent.

"Good. We're as close as we're going to get to Peeneműnde. The storm's almost passed, but the water is still a little choppy. The swim to shore is two miles -challenging for even the best athletes."

"I'm ready," said Kent.

Rathcliff pointed to the door and Kent followed him into the hall. They went to the
bridge and Rathcliff gave the order to go topside.

Kent followed Rathcliff to the nearest access ladder to the top deck. He waited patiently, ready to climb it as soon as the ship broke the water's surface. This was his first mission for British Intel. He worked as a radio operator on a military base near London at the start of the war, and because he could speak German, they recruited him for this assignment.

The rush of the sub hitting the waves jarred his senses. Kent looked at Rathcliff.
"Good luck, Leftantant."

Kent said nothing. He climbed the ladder and popped the hatch. A blast of drizzle assaulted him. It was hard to get a firm footing on the deck as he made his way to port. As soon as he reached the edge of the ship, he jumped overboard and began his long swim toward the German coast.

Every stroke was demanding. The waves threatened to engulf him. He called on all his strength, making long strokes and taking deep breaths. Slowly, he approached the shore. An unexpected wave slammed into him. He went tumbling under the water and his body struck a rock. The impact forced the air out of his lungs. His senses reeling, he knew he had to have air and struggled to get to the surface.

The wind pushed him in, and now half conscious, he realized he was prone on the sand.
Kent's eyes struggled to stay open. He ached all over, especially in the ribs. He got up on his hands and knees. Pain ripped down the side of his left torso. He needed help. There was a block of houses about two hundred meters in front of him. They all looked the same, painted gray and green with several chimneys puffing smoke against the night sky.

Kent stumbled up the beach, his eyes going in and out of focus. His breathing was labored. After several excruciating minutes, he knocked on the door of the house nearest to him. It opened. A beautiful blonde appeared.

"Wer sind Sie?"

"Help me," he said in German. Then he collapsed at her feet.

********
Here's a link to my story on my website: THE PEENEMUNDE SECRET

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A California Tidbit - The Hearst Castle


The Hearst Castle is a wonderful place to visit in California. It was one of the first things my husband and I saw when I came to California in 1998. For me, after spending 7 years in Europe and going European castle hoping, I didn't America had anything that could compare. I was wrong.

So who was Hearst? He was a newspaper mogel who lived in the early 19th Century.



William Randolph Hearst was born in San Francisco, California, to millionaire mining engineer George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Following preparation at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, he enrolled in the Harvard College class of 1885, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Alpha chapter), the A.D. Club (a prestigious Harvard Final club.)


Interestingly, he was twice elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives. Nonetheless, through his newspapers and magazines, he exercised enormous political influence, and is sometimes credited with pushing public opinion in the United States into a war with Spain in 1898. He was also a prominent leader of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party from 1896 to 1935, although he became more conservative later in life.

In 1903, William married Millicent Veronica Willson (1882–1974), a 21-year-old chorus girl, in New York City. Millicent bore him twin sons, David and Randolph, on December 2, 1915. The love of his life was Marion Davies, a famous film star at the time. Hearst died in August 1951. Davies died in Sept 1961.
After the death of Davies' niece, Patricia Lake (née Van Cleeve), Lake's family announced that she was in fact the birthdaughter of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst. Prior to the announcement, it had been said that Lake was the daughter of Rosemary Davies (Marion's sister) and her first husband, George Van Cleeve.


The Castle

The Castle itself was built on a 40,000-acre ranch purchased by William Randolph Hearst's father, wealthy miner George Hearst in 1865. Hearst Castle is located in San Simeon , California , almost exactly half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco . The ranchland has grown over the years to encompass some 250,000 acres. The Castle is on the coast and in a remote area as well. The nearest town, San Simeon is rather rural. It is 43 from San Luis Obisipo It's a very private place and has a magnificant view of the California coast!



Hearst first approached American architect Julia Morgan with ideas for a new project in April 1919, shortly after he took ownership. Hearst's original idea was to build a bungalow, according to a draughtsman who worked in Morgan's office who recounted Hearst's words from the initial meeting:

I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I’m getting a little too old for that. I’d like to get something that would be a little more comfortable.

Construction began in 1919 and continued until 1947 when Hearst grew ill in health.

Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres (0.5 km2) of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo. Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds. Morgan, an accomplished civil engineer, devised a gravity-based water delivery system from a nearby mountain. One highlight of the estate is the outdoor Neptune Pool, located near the edge of the hilltop, which offers an expansive vista of the mountains, ocean and the main house. The Neptune Pool patio features an ancient Roman temple front transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site. Hearst was an inveterate tinkerer, and would tear down structures and rebuild them at a whim. For example, the Neptune Pool was rebuilt three times before Hearst was satisfied. As a consequence of Hearst's persistent design changes, the estate was never completed in his lifetime.


Although Hearst Castle's ornamentation is borrowed from historic European themes, its underlying structure is primarily steel reinforced concrete. The use of modern engineering techniques reflects Morgan's background as a civil engineering graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and the first female architecture graduate of the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During Hearst's ownership a private power plant supplied electricity to the remote location. Most of the estate's chandeliers have bare light bulbs, because electrical technology was so new when the Castle was built.


Info for this blog came from:
http://castles.draconian.com/hearst_castle.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Randolph_Hearst
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Davies
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearst_Castle

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday Promo - Midwest Book Review on Destination: Berlin


Destination: Berlin Midwest Book Review




Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
278 Orchard Dr.
Oregon, WI 52575



Book Review for:
Destination: Berlin
SG Cardin
IUniverse Publishers
ISBN: 978-05-95164196
$14.95
5 Stars



Honorable Mention winner of the 75th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition, SG Cardin presented Destination: Berlin, a suspenseful novel set in Cold War Germany. When Corporal Sharon Cates finds her train to Berlin derailed in the middle of communist East Germany, she discovers a top-secret document in her briefcase that both the KGB and Stasi are willing to kill for. A race to Berlin ensues, and Sharon receives help from the unlikeliest of sources, Russian soldier, Jr. Sgt. Dimitri Nagory. Inspired by the author’s own experiences taking a trip to Berlin, serving in the Army’s Military Police Corps and studying history, Destination: Berlin is a tautly written saga of mistrust, determination, and survival.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday's Reading - The Elegance of the Hedgehog


I have the best friends in the world. And sadly, they're half a world way. I grew in up in Manchester NH and attended Central High from 1982-86. During that time I met 3 ladies (Idgy, Alyssa, & Karen) who have been my friends since. Their friendship, honesty, and loyality mean the world to me. We stay in touch via our Yahoo Group "NH Durannie Chicks" and last year we started a book club. That's how I came to discover "The Elegance of the Hedgehog."

It was Idgy's turn to pick a book for January and she picked "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Mariel Barbery. While I'm not done, I'm enjoying this book very much.

"Hedgehog" was originally released in France in August 2006 and since has been translated into English. It's received critical aclaim and I have to agree, it's well deserved.

"Hedgehog" takes a look at two characters who live in a trendy Paris apartment building. The main character is Renee Michel, the concerige who keeps the apartment building running smoothly. A concerige is supposed to be an uneducated person (at least to the world) but Renee is different. She's very educated and sophisicated, appreciating art and philisophy. Of course she hides it to the tenants by playing her TV all day. Her best friend is a Portguese maid, Manuela. Paloma Josse is a 12 year old who lives in the apartment building. Paloma is very cynacal (sp) of the world and plans on burning down the apartment building and committing sucide when she turns 13 - which is shortly.

When Paloma meets Renee she learns that not there is hope in the world. While the concerige, Renne, may have the elegence of the hedgehog - soft and refined on the inside, all prickly on the outside, Renee gives Paloma hope.

A new tenant moves in, a Japanese man, Ozu. Ozu and Renee become friends, further capturing Paloma's instrest. I'm not quite finished with the book, but I want to know if Paloma is going to carry out her plan of burning the building down and what is going to happen with Renee and Ozu.

I love the friendship of Renee and Manuela in the book. For me, it captures the essence of true friendship.

The book itself has been described as French satire on French stereotypes such as class consciscious (sp), but a reader could easily understand the themes as it relates to them in America.

The book does start out a little slow as the reader gets to know Renee and Paloma, but it picks up quickly and holds interest. It's a book I would have read on my own if I had known about it (because I hold French things dear to my heart due to my hertiage) but I would have never known about it if it wasn't for my book club.

If you're looking for a bit of mainstream/satireish read, this is a great book. It's one you can enjoy and think about.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Across The Fickle Winds of History


THE BLURB:
1913 brought the tercentenary to the Romanov Dynasty to Russia and the last glory days to Nicholas II and his family - but even as the Romanovs celebrated, the underpinnings of discontent and dissension began to make their way through Russian society.

It is in this world that Olga Nicolaievna Romanov finds herself coming of age. A young woman of seventeen, Olga and her sisters meet three strangers on the grounds of the Catherine Palace. Immediately, she's drawn to a handsome young man, Paul Kerensky. The girls take the strangers into their home - and hearts.

*******

Excerpt:

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.”

He was Russian! I swore to Tatiana I wanted no man unless he
shared my nationality. Could a man be so perfect?

********

You can buy Across The Fickle Winds of History at:
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/across-the-fickle-winds-of-history/1572128

4 Stars, Shannon Yarbourgh, Lulu Reviews
3 Stars, Foreword Clarion Reviews, Aimee Merizon

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! Goals for 2010


Another year has come and gone and my muse, Juliet, has been as feisty as ever. Mind you, keeping up with Juliet is like trying to tame a blizzard. I just go along for the ride and drink a lot of coffee.

Last year, Juliet and I sat down and came up with some realistic goals, so I thought I’d review them to see how I did before establishing goals for 2010.

Um, Julie, what’s with the ream of paper…?

Goals for 2009:

#1 – Realize my limitations. I’m a working mom with two kids who are six and two. My hands are full. I can write at my job, but finding time to get on the computer, well, that’s a challenge. I need to accept it and go from there without stressing myself out.

STEPH: I did really well with this. It helped to keep my stress level low and I completed several projects. I also managed to do NaNoWriMo this year.

JULIET: She was a stress case. You should have seen her during NaNoWriMo. I’ve never seen a girl drink so much coffee.

#2 Do well in the 78th Writer’s Digest Competition.

STEPH: I thought I entered several good, strong stories, but I didn’t even get an honorable mention.

JULIET: I don’t know why she didn’t. Steph’s stories rocked. After all, I was whispering in her ear.

#3 – Continue to work and edit my novel, “The Hungarian.”

STEPH: Great news! Desert Breeze is going to publish “The Hungarian” in May 2010. I’m thrilled that all my hard work and editing paid off.

JULIET: Like it was all her? I deserve a little credit here.

#4 – Read more. Read different styles. Get inspired by a few good books.

STEPH: Oh, I got out and read. I discovered the Wild Rose Press which I adore. I definitely broadened my reading horizons.

JULIET: Steph and I are hooked on Keena Kincaid’s “Druids of Duncaroch” series.

#5 – Get more social on writing websites.

STEPH: I joined a bunch of groups – Classic Romance Revival, Long and Short Reviews, Lindsay’s Romantics, the Book Spa, Romance Writers of America, and EPIC. I’ve made some great friends.

JULIET: I told her to smile a lot.

(*****)

If you ask me, I thought I did a good job with my goals, 4 out of 5 wasn’t bad. Plus, I sold a children’s story, “The Giving Meadow” to 4RV Publishing which will be coming out in the spring of 2010. That was a nice, unexpected surprise. I also was a NaNoWriMo winner at 50.2 K words. Having accomplished all that, here are my writing goals for 2010:

#1 – Continue to work within my limitations. I was very excited to participate in NaNoWriMo and finish the project, but we’ll see if I enter in 2010. It’s very demanding and the conditions have to be right. I want to grow as a writer like I did in 2009, but without undue pressure on myself or unrealistic expectations.

#2 – My sequel to “The Hungarian” is titled “The Count’s Lair.” I want to finish and edit the project, having it to Desert Breeze by April 2010.

#3 – I want to become a Wild Rose Press author. I love the Wild Rose Press and would be honored to be an author with them.

#4 – Finish my novella, “The White Rose” about Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Right now it’s ½ done.

#5 – Finish my novel, “Twilight Over Moldavia,” and submit it to publishers. I would consider it a paranormal romantic suspense.

#6 – Do well in the 79th Writer’s Digest Competition and the Popular Fiction Contest.

#7 – Continue to read and grow as a writer.

#8 – Continue to be social on the writing groups, websites, and blogs. Now that I’ve got some momentum, I’d like to keep it.

#9 – Write more one more novel length romance this year.

#10 – Meet Chad Pennington, the football player. Juliet thinks he’s cute and he’s a comeback kid.


Visit me at:
Classic Romance Revival
http://www.classicromancerevival.com/blog

Adventures in Moldavia
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com

The Desert Breeze Blog
http://desertbreezepublishing.blogspot.com

Lindsay’s Romantics
http://lindsaysromantics.blogspot.com

and drop me a line on all four blogs by 3 JAN at midnight PST and be entered to win a GC for Desert Breeze Publishing. I’ll announce the winner on 4 Jan.