A Gentleman and a Rogue

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Genre Tuesday - The Romantic Heroine


This is an article that I wrote for the Romance/Love Newsletter for Writing.com last fall. Enjoy.

The Romantic Heroine
by Stephanie Burkhart

A modern heroine has a lot to live up to. Our society is so fast paced, and yet she’s suppose to embody that perfect balance between being a woman, and living up to today’s high expectations. So what is she suppose to look like? Let’s start there.

A big element to your heroine is attractiveness, but the romantic heroine shouldn’t be drop dead gorgeous – she should be convincingly attractive to the reader.

What does that mean?

The everyday woman usually doesn’t have model looks. By weaving in realistic physical flaws you can paint a picture of any everyday romantic heroine. Perhaps she thinks she’s too tall. Or she doesn’t like her nose. She could be a plus size, or doesn’t care for her curly hair. Most women can connect with those elements. The big thing to keep in mind as you paint your heroine is to keep her self-respect intact. If she doesn’t respect herself, then how can the hero? Our heroine may not like her nose, but her self-respect for her body and her appearance can’t suffer. If it does, then she isn’t convincing as a romantic heroine.

The Qualities a Romance Heroine Embodies

For a modern reader, a romantic heroine must embody three things: an ability to connect with the reader, strength, and she must deserve the hero. Most modern writers try to deliver.

Food for thought: Have you read “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald? Think of his heroine in the story, Daisy. Written in the 1920’s, Daisy doesn’t embody the modern romantic heroine. She lacks strength and she doesn’t deserve Gatsby – yet in the 1920’s, Daisy cut a romantic figure for her contemporary audience. Nowadays, Daisy would be frowned upon.

Keep in mind romantic norms have changed over the years. Modern readers expect heroines, even those in historical, to embody modern trends. This might prove tricky in historical since women were treated differently and expected to act differently, but it is do-able to have historical heroine portray modern norms.

Connect with Readers

If the heroine can’t connect with the reader, then she isn’t convincing. Her physical appearance is only one aspect of connecting with readers. There are other aspects as well. For one: a sympathetic past. This doesn’t mean she suffered an abusive set of parents per se, but she has to be shaped by previous experiences. Was she raised by an aunt and uncle? Did she have a stern father? Was she the only girl in a family of five boys?

NOTE: The reader doesn’t need to know all about the heroine’s past in the first chapter. Reveal it slowly, over time, preferably to the hero of the story. An info dump on the heroine’s past in chapter one is a sure story killer.

Strength

Heroines don’t need to be physically strong, but they must embody an inner strength that the reader can relate it. She may have problems, but she has to have the inner strength to overcome them. She has to be able to do the right thing when the time comes.

She Must Deserve the Hero

Our hero is strong in body and character. He doesn’t lie, unless he think he’s protecting the heroine. He doesn’t steal. H e strives to do the right thing. Our heroine must embody these traits as well.

She may be looking for a romance, but she doesn’t need it. She can take care of herself. Finding Mr. Right is a bonus for her.

The same rules apply to our women as they do our romantic men. They have dignity. They’re honest. They’re tenderhearted toward their men.


So when composing a modern heroine, even a historical one, remember to be convincing, show her inner strength, and make her worthy of her man.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Destination: Berlin



My JULY BLOG tour for DESTINATION: BERLIN kicks off this FRIDAY at Diane Craver's Blog on 2 JUL. I hope to see you there. In ancticipation of the tour, here's a nice little teaser for the novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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 she 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, but when the sudden explosion hurls Sharon and Dimitri from the train and into each other’s arms, can they find their way to Berlin before the Stasi do?

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?”


THE BOOK:
The book is “sweet” by romance standards as Sharon and Dimitri, enemies due to their armies, are forced to rely on each other to get to Berlin.

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuav1ZTlWOA

You can buy the book at:
http://www.iuniverse.com (search the bookstore for Destination: Berlin)
and at:


http://www.amazon.com/Destination-Berlin-S-Cardin/dp/0595164196/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261846072&sr=1-2

REVIEWS:
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



"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." - 4 Stars, Book of the Moment, Reviewer.


"Inspired by the author's own experiences taking a trip to Berlin, serving the Army's Military Police Corps, and studying history, Destination Berlin is a tautly written saga of mistrust, determination, and survival." - 5 Stars, Midwest Book Review.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Last 5 Books I Read


I know this is supposed to be "History" Saturday, but I'd thought I'd make it free day. hehe.

I just got a review back for "The Hungarian" from Coffee Time Romance and I thought a tidbit with you:
Danielle, Reviewer
3 CUPS

"Ms. Burkhart tells this tale in such a voice that we can practically feel the waves of emotions both characters are feeling coming off the pages."

Here's a link to the review: http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/thehungarianbystephanieburkhart.html

3 CUPS is "A Good Read" with Coffee Time and I'm thrilled to be reviewed by them.

****

I just checked Barnes & Noble and "The Hungarian" is the #1 Bestseller for Desert Breeze Books over there. 2nd time this week. hehe.

****

Here's the last 5 BOOKS I read:

5 - Prime Suspect by Melanie Atkins. This is a romantic suspense. Atkins writing is thrilling.

4 - Thin Ice by Liana Laverentz. This is a contemporary romance and centers around the sport of hockey. I enjoy hockey and I thought Laverentz did a great job bring the sport to life.

3 - Knight of Glory by Nicole Zoltack. This is a fantasy romance. I love Nicole's imagination. It really shines. I love the creativity in the story.

2 - No Other by Shawna Williams. This is an inspirational romance. It's very edgy for inspiratational, at least I thought so, and that's what really appealed to me as I was reading it.

3 - Outcasts by Gail Delaney. I am addicated to Beverly and Victor. I love this couple. Tortured and Romantic. Thumbs Up I am a fan of Delaneys Phoenix Rebellion series. This is a sci-fi speculative romance.

****

I just finished Gaining Ground by Delany, book 3 in the Phoenix Rebellion and I'll be tackling PI Barrington's Miraculous Deception next. After that, Protect the Heart by LK Hunsaker.

Share your books with me today! What are you reading? What have you read? What do you enjoy.
Smiles
Steph

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review for "The Hungarian"



By: RmceWtr, Posted on Barnes & Noble 6 JUN 2010
5 Stars

Generally speaking, I'm not a paranormal fan... which is why I was surprised to enjoy THE HUNGARIAN by Stephanie Burkhart as much as I did.

I don't enjoy books that make werewolves little more than pack animals, driven solely by the most basic animal instincts. THE HUNGARIAN is different. Burkhart takes the focus off the animal, placing to fully and wholly on the man. Her writing is vivid, her historical detail used to paint a beautiful image of the time and place.

She draws you into the emotion of the story, and the beauty of the love between Mathias and Katherine. If you enjoy werewolf/paranormal stories, this is an absolute winner. But then again, if you're not necessarily a paranormal fan -- but a fan of a deeply emotional romance -- you could very well enjoy it still.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cupid Diaires Blog Carnival Today - Royal Pretender



My story in the Cupid Diaries is one that is close to my heart – that of George II and Caroline of Ansbach. It's one of the first historical romances I've ever read and it really inspired the love I have for historical fiction.

I discovered this interesting couple back in 1988 when someone sent me a book called "Queen in Waiting" by Jean Plaidy in a care package. While I was waiting to take the Duty Train to Berlin, I sat down at a German Café and decided to give the story a try.

I loved it!

Jean Plaidy is a pen name for Victoria Holt and Victoria Holt was one of my favorite Romantic Gothic authors. I had no idea she did historical fiction, but she totally enthralled me with George and Caroline's story.

Historically, George and Caroline were a love match – a love match during a time when love matches were frowned upon.

George's father was George I of England, but before he ascended to the kingship, he was Elector of Hanover and his marriage was arranged. He couldn't stand his bride, Sophia Dorethra of Celle. He did his duty by her, had two children, then ignored her. She said what was good for the goose was good for the gander and CHEATED ON HIM. Well, George would not be cuckolded. He sent a young and vivacious woman to the tower. She grew old and died in that tower. George II was only a boy when it happened, but it left a mark on him.

When it came time for his son to marry, George I wanted George II to be in love with his wife. Surprising considering the times, but not so surprising considering what he went through in his marriage. His mother, The Dowager Electress Sophia suggested Caroline of Ansbach.

Caroline grew up in the small Baravian town of Ansbach. She was orphaned by ten and went to live with her mother's friend, Sophia Charlotte, the Electress of Prussia. Sophia Charlotte was the Dowager Electress's daughter. Caroline loved living with Sophia Charlotte. She grew up in a sophisticated court and one of her best friends was a philosopher, Liebnez.

Sophia Charlotte was on her way to Hanover to arrange the marriage of Caroline and George II when she died. George and Caroline seemed destined to never met.
The Dowager Electress whispered into her son's ear. Why not have George II marry Caroline? George I liked the idea, but wanted his son to be in love with his wife. He sent George II to Ansbach in disguise to meet Caroline and to see if a love match could be made. After all, his son had faults. He was short, short tempered, and a nag. Caroline was reputed to be beautiful, mild mannered, and quick-witted.

George was honored to be courting Caroline – even in secret. After all, she had refused the heir to the Spanish throne. If she was good enough for a king, well, she was a prize to have indeed. When he met her, the sparks flew on both sides and he realized it was more than pride – it was love.

They went on to marry and had 9 children. George I was offered the British throne and he accepted. George and Caroline became the Prince and Princess of Wales. Caroline was the FIRST Princess of Wales since Katherine of Aragon back in 1501.

Eventually, George II took mistresses. Initially Caroline was distressed. Wasn't she enough for him? They were a love match. Then she learned he only did it because he thought it was expected him to have a mistress. With that mind, she picked the mistresses out for him. Still, George loved her until the day she died. On her deathbed Caroline told him to marry again. He said he wouldn't. And he didn't.

Again, it was a story I admired because in a time when arranged marriages were the norm, George and Caroline were in love and then got married.

I hope you enjoy "Royal Pretender" in The Cupid Diaries.

Here's a buy link for the Anthology. Currently, it is available as an Ebook

Monday, June 21, 2010

Excerpt Monday - From Matchmaking Amusement in the BeMused Anthology


Isolde turned to look and discovered a tall, male muse with an upturned nose and shamrock green eyes -- a pixie muse! He had long, soft brown hair with chestnut highlights and his skin tone was a little darker than most muses, bordering on olive. He had such a rich, inviting smile it warmed her to her bones. She nibbled on her lower lip for a second, realizing he must also recognize her as a pixie muse, took a breath, and flashed him a smile.

"Ah, no."

"You looked a little overwhelmed. Want some help?"

"Sure."

He offered his hand, palm up, in the traditional muse greeting. "I'm Tristan."

She put her hand on his and a zip of warm tingles pulsed up her arm. "I'm Isolde."

He chuckled. "Uncanny. What namesakes we have -- ancient lovers with a passionate story."

Scarlett Johansson, inspiration for "Isolde."
She felt her cheeks prickle. "It was a passionate story."

"Well, you have a lovely name."

"Thank you," said Isolde.

"Ah, so, do you have a hotel?"

"The Wittelsbach."

"I'm there, too." He paused, his lips curving into a sweet smile. "Want to share a cab?"

Isolde loved his friendly demeanor, and his classical pixie looks warmed her to her toes. She wiggled them to make sure they were still tingling.

He pointed to the cab platform and Isolde fell in step beside him. "Are you here on vacation?" he asked.

"Yes."

"How did you hear about this place?"

"Well, my human wrote about it in her last book so I thought I'd check it out," replied Isolde.

They stepped out into the crisp German air. The scent of fresh cut grass made Isolde's wings hum with excitement under her clothes. The sky was cerulean blue without a cloud in the sky, and the sun was as warm as an apple tart pulled right out of the oven. What a lovely place Berchtesgaden was.

They stepped up to the platform and Tristan flagged down a cab.

Isolde helped him load the bags in the back while the cab driver waited in the front seat.

Chace Crawford, inspiration for "Tristan"
"So, you've never been?" he asked.

"Nope."

"I was here once when my writer was in the military. It's lovely. If you want, I can show you around."

"You hardly know me," said Isolde.

He shut the trunk and looked directly at her. His warm, penetrating gaze shot through her heart like an arrow on fire. "But I'd like to get to know you."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guest Author Series, Welcome Regina Andrews


It's All in the Cards
By: Regina Andrews

June is a wonderful month! Graduations, Father's Day, birthdays.…oh and yes, Flag Day. Flag day? Absolutely. Besides loving my country, which I really do, I have another reason to love Flag Day as well as every other holiday that is considered less-than-major. I'm one of those folks who loves to celebrate even the most obscure occasion.

It all began when I became a greeting card writer fourteen years ago, a job I loved for ten years. Flash forward to today: here we are, the company out of business because the world changed to email instead of personal mail. But I am still a greeting card writer. As they say, you can take the girl out of the social expressions industry, but you can't take the social expressions out of the industry girl. ****sigh****

As it turns out, my husband's birthday is in June. Being a romance writer and greeting card maven (and oh yes, loving him madly, of course), one of my favorite occasions is his birthday. Thus, I recently went into the store to find him some cards.
The selection was mostly humorous, and I gravitated to the other sections. At our company we divided the cards by size, theme and style (rhyme or prose). There were basically two themes for cards for "Husband Birthday": those were 1) Can't Say/Don't Say ("even though I never tell you how much you mean to me I hope you know I love you.") and 2)Gratitude ("To thank you for all that you have give me, all that you have done would take a lifetime…and a day.")
Mostly I found cards that looked like this:











Not really working. He's not the teddy bear type.





Or this:




…which was totally too Valentine-y.

I had a moment of nostalgia where I wished the cards all were like this:






























But that was not to be. Realizing that times had really, really changed, I decided to 'join them' (since I can't 'beat them!'). So I sent him an e-card and he loved it!

Regina's latest book, "Destiny's Designs" was released with Desert Breeze Publishing. Regina writes inspirational romance. You can find her book here:http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-68/Destiny%27s-Designs/Detail.bok

Friday, June 11, 2010

Guest Author Series - Welcome P.I. Barrington


P.I. Barrington is a fellow author at Desert Breeze Publishing and lives in Riverside, CA. She's the author of the Future Imperfect series and is here to talk about her latest release, "Miraculous Deception." Here's a little about Patti:

P.I. Barrington has returned to her original career choice of fiction writing after a long detour in the entertainment industry. Her experience includes work as a newspaper journalist, radio air talent, and at a major record company. She lives in Southern California with her dog and wildlife in her rural neighborhood.

Welcome, Patti. Now onto the questions!

STEPH: Can you tell us a little about Future Imperfect, Book 2: Miraculous Deception?

Miraculous Deception picks up almost immediately where Book One: Crucifying Angel ends. This book is a little different without the breakneck speed of CA but, I think it’s better in terms of character development and it has a few surprises. Betrayal, real and perceived, plays a big role in the story line.

STEPH: Do you cast your characters? If so, what does casting brining to your characters? Who is Gavin? Payce?

Always. Many times I have the casting before the character is developed. Casting helps with so many things—facial and verbal expression, physical activity levels, vulnerability or lack of it. In other words, can the characters physically fight to defend themselves or someone else? Do they have an angry expression on their face and how does that affect anyone interacting with them? Are they verbally sarcastic? Are they meek and timid? Casting kicks off so many possibilities in writing: theme, conflict, resolution. It’s invaluable. STEPH: Yes, exaculty! I agree. I love cast my characters because of the same things you mentioned!

Gavin McAllister is the first ever character that has been impossible for me to cast, I’ve never had that happen before. I originally cast Jared Leto as Gavin but he just doesn’t that world weary look that many cops have so I had to demote him—actually I picture him for a new character—that’s all I want to reveal right now.
Payce came from a shot of a woman target practicing in an indoor shooting range. At the time I didn’t realize I was setting up her personal conflicts until the story materialized. I have shots of all my characters, some I have only one precious shot, others I have a lot of shots in different settings, lighting, black & white and color. Nick Kincaid was from a shot of actor Alain Delon but from only one shot and it doesn’t look like he does now. Georgene Channing came from a shot of a model in a hairstyling magazine.


STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the Future Imperfect series?

My Desert Breeze Publishing editor, Gail R. Delaney had a seminal idea for an environmental breakdown overall setting. I took that and expanded on it to include the economic breakdown as well. (I swear it wasn’t due to the real economic crisis going on now!) That let me get away with breaking the rules about police and hospital protocol and procedure—civil service in 2032 Las Vegas now has to dispense with a lot of rules to just keep the city functioning as best they can. So police do triple duty, stressed to the max, and the coroner has to double up on being both the Coroner and the head of the city hospital. Also, that shot of Payce just opened up the storyline for me, lol!

STEPH: Why did you pick Las Vegas for the setting of the series?

Its crazy beautiful. It’s Sin City personified but at times it just has an incredible energy and physical beauty especially at sunset when the neon and the natural collide. And it’s the kind of setting and area that are perfect for disintegration of a place and its society. Another major part was Gavin being from cool and green Britain to the sometimes painfully arid and hot temperature of Vegas and Nevada. He’s out of his element there but he’s escaping a torturous past by going to someplace completely new and different. That’s Las Vegas to a tee—he wants to leave many times but he stays for Payce.

STEPH: What's next on your writing plate?

I’m finishing up a novella for a Desert Breeze sci-fi anthology due out in October. My sister and I have a cozy type mystery book that will be released in August this year as well. I have some secret projects as well but I’m too superstitious to talk about them!

STEPH: The Future Imperfect series is sci-fi/speculative fiction. What gravitates you toward that genre?

Boy that question begs a long answer. I think that it’s because the future whether near or far into the distance is wide open. Nobody really knows what the future holds especially technology-wise so you can kind of let loose with ideas that are out there. I also love the semi-military look and atmosphere that you can get with science fiction. I don’t know why, maybe it gives me a sense of power over impossible situations, or maybe I’m just a tech geek. Also for me, being an ancient history buff, it’s also about the psychology of humans. We really haven’t developed as a species regardless of our technological advances and I think that’s where a lot of our problems lie. Just because I can email you doesn’t make me a kinder person or even a responsible one and many people get the two confused. They think, “well we can go to the moon, we must be really advanced” when in reality we still have the same problems and even more with technology bringing in a new set of moral and ethical problems such as the debate over regulating the Internet. We’re still wishing and hoping for a future where our all problems with each other are a thing of the past. Anyone wanting to argue that point just has to look at the 9/11 tragedy.

People are still people and still have the same dilemmas we’ve had for thousands of years. And surprisingly, we still have some of the same technology! I went to the Pompeii exhibit a few years ago in LA and saw the identical gynecological instruments that are used today! No kidding! STEPH: That is wild! So unless we go too far with human recombinant DNA and mess with our genes and mutate into a different kind of being or species, people will pretty much always be people.

For me that’s what science fiction is about: people and their conflicts. Oh, and I love a man in a uniform!

STEPH: What other genres would you like to write or explore, if any?

I would love to write historical fiction and Christian historical fiction. At one point I wanted to write Christian sci-fi but I get a little too preachy so I’m leery of letting myself run away with me.

STEPH: What's the latest movie you saw at the movie theatre?

I think it was G.I. Joe. But honestly I was very disappointed. I was hoping for something close to Halo but it was just a lot of explosions and too much ridiculous special effects. At points it was just silly. Halo may be grim and violent but at least it has—yes I’m going to use that word again—verisimilitude.

STEPH: I see you live in Southern California. Can you share a little about it with us?

I’ve lived here virtually my entire life. I’ve always been proud of this state, happy to live here. It’s always had that sense of being the place that’s ‘happening’ to use an old phrase. Someone in Hollywood or talking about it called us the PR department of America and I think that’s true though sometimes we present a not so exemplary image. We’re the place of dreamers who truly believe they can make their dreams come true and even though there have been countless crushed and broken hearts and dreams, people still come here in droves with a sense of hope. I think both Los Angeles and New York City are the two places where a science fiction writer can get an idea of how a future society comprised of so many different citizens of race and species (alien) develops and exists. To put it simply, they’re great examples of world building. That’s just my opinion.


STEPH: Any hobbies you'd like to share?

I love gardening.

Book Two Future Imperfect: Miraculous Deception will release June 1, 2010 along with Book One: Crucifying Angel they can be purchased from DesertBreezePublishing.com, Amazon.com.

Here’s a small excerpt from Miraculous Deception:

Gavin and Nick sat in Charlie's office, silent, shamefaced, bruised and most definitely hostile. The chief of police paced back and forth around his desk, beyond angry.

"Look at you -- both of you. You're like a couple of bruised up kindergarteners. I don't know what to say. I have never -- never -- had two detectives fighting each other like two drunks outside a bar. What the hell is the matter with you?"

Neither man answered.

"Nick?" Charlie waited.

"It's this asshole. He moves into Payce house and immediately starts boinking Amy Strand from Channel Eight."

Gavin opened his mouth to respond but never got the chance.

"You brought the press into this?" Charlie stared at Gavin, round-eyed.

"Well, not in so many words..." Gavin pressed two fingers against his black eye. "It was just, sort of... bad judgment. Besides that, nothing ha--"

"Bad judgment? I'll tell you what bad judgment is, McAllister. Bad judgment was the damned day I hired you."

Gavin said nothing. What could he say?

"That's putting it mildly,' Nick snorted. "Payce--"

"Whoa." Charlie held up an open palm. "I don't want to know what weird triangle you three have going here, though it's a safe bet Payce has no idea what's going on--"
"She doesn't," Gavin said in a tired voice. His eye began to ache.

"You made damn sure of that you British fu--"

"Nick!" Charlie said. "Enough already. Now, because of the scarcity of budget and personnel, I am not going to suspend you both or fire you -- which I should -- I am going to let you both off, each with a written warning." Charlie sat down behind his desk. "You two are going to have to work this out or I will fire you both and I'll make damn sure you won't be able to get a job as a security guard in a parking lot. Do you understand me?"

"We're still partners?" Nick deflated a little. Gavin understood the feeling.
"Yes. I can't think of a better punishment for the both of you. You can work it out or resign. That's your choice now boys. You are dismissed. Get out of my office." Charlie ignored them swiveling his chair around to gaze out his window at the rapidly rotting city of Las Vegas.

My website: http://thewordmistresses.com
Email: wordmistresses@yahoo.com


Patti, thanks for being here today

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Just Released - My Children's Book - The Giving Meadow!


I'm very excited to announce the release of my first children's book, "The Giving Meadow!" It was released through 4RV Publishing and is available at the following link: http://4rvpublishingllc.com/Childrens_Books.html.

The Giving Meadow is about a caterpillar who travels through a meadow making friends before turning into a butterfly. It's geared for 4-7 year olds.

This was a nice, unexpected surprise when it happened. I attend Blessed Kateri Church in Santa Clarita, CA and I'm very active in the Little Church Program. Little Church offers a Sunday Preschool type atmosphere for children to go to while their parents attend mass. I help to teach the 3 year old with three other woman, Maureen, Shirley, and Mary.

Every year we have a Easter party for the children. In 2009, I was drafted to write a play for the Easter party. That play was "The Giving Meadow." After writing it, I thought I'd show it to Vivian Zabel over at 4RV for her thoughts. Vivian offered me a contract on the book. Giddy and excited, I accepted. A year later, I'm holding a copy of this inspired book in my hands.

My thanks go out to Maureen, Shirley, Mary, the children who inspired the play, Vivian, who believed in the story, and to Stephen who brought the book to life with his wonderful pictures.

Smiles
Steph

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Genre Tuesday - A look at Steampunk


I heard the word steampunk the other day and raised an eyebrow. I was clueless. What was a steampunk romance? Steam with an attitude? I started poking around and found out it was just that – steam with a 'tude.

As the term implies, the story is generally set in the early industrial period where steam power is more widely known, such as early Victorian England, but it adds a second element such as a science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy or paranormal twist. Adding to the complexity of the "steam" is that the story usually takes place in an alternate time, or parallel universe.

Steampunk, as a whole, has it's roots in the late 1980's, early 1990's, right alongside cyberpunk. According to Wikipedia, it was coined by author K.W. Jeter, who was trying to find a term to describe his writing – 19th Century settings which were typically Victorian and imitated actual Victorian age speculative authors such as HG Wells. In fact, HG Wells, and Jules Verne embody the type of steampunk technology that the genre embraces – they just wrote during the time period, the 19th Century. They were a century too early for steampunk! Current author of the steampunk genre include: KW Jeter, "Morlock Night," Tim Powers, "The Anubis Gates," and James Blaylock "Homunculus." There are several romantic authors who write with a steampunk twist including: Calista Taylor, Natalie Gray, and Katie MacAlister.

Steampunk settings are not limited to Victorian England. You could place your setting in the American west, but it has to meet the following criteria: it has to be in the 19th Century, it has to use "steam" power, and it has to have a sci-fi, speculative, fantasy, or paranormal element. Throw a romance in there and you have Steampunk Romance, which are also very popular in the Romance market.

Historical steampunk stories lean toward using more science fiction/speculative elements and alternate histories. Fantasy/paranormal steampunk lean toward using magic in a London underground setting.

"Steam," of course, is the central element to a steampunk. Technological inventions used in a steampunk shouldn't be that far off from those inventions and gadgets used in the 19th century. You might have a steam powered motor car that works much like a train. Or maybe even a steam powered dirigible. Or you could invent your own steam powered aircraft for your story. You might even have an early dated computer. The appeal of the Victorian era when it comes to technology is that it was an ungoverned time in regards to rules and regulations and an amateur inventor had just as much a chance as hitting on a good idea as a professional. Also, technological inventions didn't just have a metallic look that they do now. In Victorian times, they were works of art, with designs that infused personality.



References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_steampunk_works
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/26/the_age_of_steampunk/
http://steampunkscholar.blogspot.com/2009/02/towards-definition-of-steampunk.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk
http://www.calistataylor.com

Monday, June 7, 2010

Excerpt Monday - from "The Hungarian"


THE SET UP:
Katherine has just arrived in Budapest.

****

Katherine's eyes were riveted to the new sights just outside the auto's window. This area of Pest reminded her of London, packed with businesses, thriving with people. They drove past a small park on the outskirts of the business district and made their way toward a sprawling suspension bridge. It was then Katherine spied the mighty Danube, wide and rapid, masterfully slicing the city into two very distinct parts.

Matthias inclined his head toward the auto's window. "That's the Széchenyi Bridge. It was built in the 1840's, and was the first suspension bridge of its time," he paused, a smile full of pride growing across his face. "We Hungarians are very proud of our engineering accomplishments."

"Amazing," she whispered in awe. The legs of the bridge were made out of bricks, incredibly thick, popping through the rushing currents of water with ease. The road was wide, able to support an unlimited amount of autos and carriages. Four spires thrust toward the sky, linked together with thick cable wire. The cables didn't cross the bridge, but ran parallel from spire to spire, curving downward in the middle gap between the steel towers.

Katherine noticed the sky as their auto rumbled over the sturdy bridge. It was a rich cerulean blue that seemed to touch the earth. She thought if she stood on her tiptoes, she'd be able to touch the sky and say with convincing authority that she had indeed touched the intangible.


Check out "The Hungarian's" Book Trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZwaF8hAdow

*****

The Hungarian is Available at Desert Breeze, Amazon for Kindle, B&N for the Nook, Sony, All Romance ebooks and Books on Board.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Guest Author Series - Esther Mitchell

I'd like to welcome Esther Mitchell to the blog today. She's one of my fellow Desert Breeze Authors and her book, Daughter of Ashes, is a June release for Desert Breeze. Esther likes to write fantasy and she's a co-author with me in the Borealis sci-fi/speculative anthology coming out in October/December 2010 with Desert Breeze.

Here's a little about Esther: While unpublished until her twenties, Esther Mitchell spent her life dreaming of writing. She learned to read on such classics as Gawain & the Green Knight and Beowulf. Raised in Europe, with its wide exposure to mythology, history, and the paranormal, she quickly became fascinated by the lore of the unseen, eventually translating into an educational background in parapsychology and a lifetime of study and practice in spiritual healing and counseling.

Life in a fast-paced, on-the-edge military community ingrained her with both an intimate understanding of the military world, and the ability to craft edgy suspense. At the age of eight, she fell in love with romance, and by the time she was twelve, she had already penned the first of a series of Arthurian romances, and was working on what would later become the futuristic suspense series, Underground.

Always dedicated foremost to her writing, she writes under her real name, and has completed about thirty novels to date, of which ten have previously been published, with more to come. Reviewers and fans alike have dubbed her work “exciting,” “edge of your seat” and “daring.” For more information on either her books or her work with metaphysical healing, visit her website at http://www.esthermitchell.com

**** ABOUT THE LEGENDS OF TIRUM SERIES by Esther

SERIES Blurb: Legends of Tirum Legend speaks of the Aerai Majin – a wise and powerful Majin who once, long ago, drew together the nine Elements and used their power to reshape a world on the brink of disaster. When war broke out amongst the power-hungry Maji, the peace-loving Aerai Majin scattered his knowledge, entrusting it to nine bloodlines that remained untouched by the war. It is said that when the nine Chosen of the pure bloodlines come together in the Aerai Majin’s sacred space, the world will be returned from Darkness. But the cost of doing so means opening wide the Gate of the Underworld, and unleashing a Culling the power mongers would do anything to prevent.

BOOK Blurb: DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Book 1) Telyn Gwndal has always feared Majik. But when her destiny brings her back to the place her nightmares were born, Telyn must take up a sacred quest to avenge the father she never knew. Her greatest ally is a man with a secret that could reawaken a past Telyn believes dead and buried, and destroy the truth she holds sacred. Can she trust him with her heart, or will destiny force her to let him go?

****

EXCERPT FROM DAUGHTER OF ASHES

Sala floated back into the fireplace, and the fire suddenly doused itself into little more than hot ash and a few smoldering coals.

Telyn swallowed hard, suddenly edgy now that she was completely alone with Nacaris. “I don’t know how to do this,” she admitted quietly. “Shh.”

He touched a finger to her lips, stilling her. “I understand there are things you can’t share with anyone. I’m only asking to be a part of what you can share.”

His face filled her vision, and Telyn’s eyes widened as his lips replaced his touch against her mouth in a soft, gentle kiss she never expected from this battle-hardened man. Enclosed in his embrace as he released her lips, Telyn allowed herself to sink against the leather of his tunic and breathe in the scents of man, horse, and travel that clung to him. It was a comforting scent, underscored by something dark, dangerous, and uniquely Nacaris. She sighed regretfully.

“I wish–”

“What?” He nuzzled her hair, and stroked a hand lightly over her back.


“Talk to me, Telyn.” She stifled a mirthless laugh. He had no idea how much she struggled to keep her thoughts from him — she already feared they were doomed.

“I wish it could always be like this.” “What, always on the hunt? Roaming endlessly, without a home?”

He squeezed her lightly. “Be careful what you wish for, balnyt. Nature is both a capricious and mischievous mistress. You may get what you want, in ways you least desire.”

Telyn shuddered, hearing the ring of prophecy behind those teasing words. She wasn’t fool enough to test them just now. Instead, she burrowed into his embrace and allowed herself a rare moment to be something other than a warrior.

***

Buy Link: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-91/%3CI%3ELegends-of-Tirum-Book/Detail.bok

BOOK TRAILER:
video

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

News from the Publishing World


Hi All - I haven't done this in a while, but I thought I'd post about the recent news from the publishing world and my thoughts on it. I get my news from Publisher's Weekly online, an industry trade magazine about the publishing industy and you can find it at: http://www.publishersweekly.com

#1 - Texas Attorney General questions Ebook Pricing.

Harper Collins and Hachette publishing have been approached by the Texas Attorney General regarding their pricing of ebooks. The crux of it: "Apple, in seeking to attract content for the iPad, opted for an agency pricing model in which publishers set their own retail prices and receive 70% of the price while sellers receive the remaining 30%." Because of this, the pricing on some ebooks went UP. For example, from 9.99 as much as 14.99. That's a lot. (And this is for major authors) This is the "Agency Model" and major publishers like this. The traditional model is to have the retailer, say AMAZON, set the price.

Personaly the Agency model is not Reader/Buyer friendly. While the iPad is cool, it is pricey and it's not something I can afford right now.

#2 - Borders is Developing an ebook reader - KoBo. I don't much else about it but I'll look around. Right now it is not available but the book store is taking pre orders for $150.00. It is scheduled to ship 17 June. KoBo does not have 3G or WiFi but has Bluetooth access so it should allow downloads from your computer to the ebook reader through bluetooth. KoBo uses eInk Technology like The Nook and Kindle.

My notes: Kobo looks like the Kindle. I like the price as it's very affordable at $150.00. If you are looking for affordablity, it is comparable to the Sony Ereader.

#3 - The Nook outsells the Kindle in MARCH 2010. One of the reasons? The Nook sells in Target and Barnes and Noble Brick and Mortar stores. The Kindle sells only through the online store. (All though I think this might changing soon.)

#4 - Belinda Carlisle publishes her memoriors: Good Morning America hosted singer Belinda Carlisle recently, whose Lips Unsealed: A Memoir (Crown, 978-0307463494, $26; RH Audio abridged CD, $30). PW thought "Carlisle writes candidly, and her chronic fear of being exposed as a fake is heartfelt and winning."

#5 - June is National Audio Book Month!

Enjoy

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Join Red Paint, Crimson Blood on the Summer Reading Trail



Join me on the Voirey Linger summer trail! My short story, "Red Paint, Crimson Blood" is on the Trail. Here's a link to all the other stories on the trail: Short Story Summer Reading Trail

All the stories are FREE reads. Red Paint, Crimson Blood, is listed under the adult reading category because I have it rated R. It's a horror story about the real Vlad Tepes who inspired the creature, Dracula.



The story is set in Bucharest, in 1476, just before Dracula dies. He has commissioned a painter to come and paint his portait. What the painter discovers about the true Dracula is enough to horrify him. If you're in for a good horror story, you'll enjoy "Red Paint, Crimson Blood." The story was a Honorable Mention Winner in the 76th Annual Writer's Digest Competition.

Also on the Trailhead are Liana Laverentz, Celia Yeary, and MaryAnn Miller plus a lot of other authors.

Here's the information on the Trail: The free reads include short stories, serial installments, deleted scenes and book excerpts from published and unpublished authors. The Summer Reading Trail will run from May 1 through the end of July. New links will be updated on the first of every month, so you can enjoy a summer of reading. You are encouraged to explore authors’ websites and blogs, to take a moment to leave them a comment and to bookmark sites and visit often.

I hope you get a chance to check out the free reads offered. It looks to be good fun.

Smiles
Steph