Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Promo Wednesday - Review for "The Wolf's Torment"

The Wolf's Torment was published with IUniverse in 2007. I was very proud of the story when it came out. It's a bit darker for me, and I'm currently (slowly) writing the sequel, "Twilight Over Moldavia."

In the mid-1800s, Moldavia is a dark, mysterious country near the Baltic Sea, steeped in mythical legends of vampires, werewolves, and witches. At a young age, Crown Prince Mihai Sigmaringen realizes the legacy of his country when he witnesses his mother’s gruesome murder at the hands of a vengeful witch.

When he comes of age, Mihai goes to England for his education, intent on modernizing his country and ridding it of its dark reputation. His father recalls him to Moldavia to resume his royal duties and find a wife. Mihai reluctantly returns, but his life takes a stunning turn when a werewolf bites his best friend, Viktor.

Despite his distaste for the supernatural, Mihai allows Viktor to stay in Moldavia and watches as Viktor struggles to maintain his humanity. But faced with demons and other paranormal beings, Mihai’s loyalty to his friend may very well plunge his country into chaos …

Review from:
Andrew Ian Dodge, Blogger News Network

The Wolf’s Torment
S.G. Cardin
iUniverse (2007)
ISBN 9780595417339
Reviewed by Andrew Ian Dodge, Nov 2007

I am fan of gothic horror novels, having written a few tales myself in the genre, but I do have a low tolerance for derivative novels that add nothing new to the genre. This is not one of those. Despite the fact the author has never been to places in the book; she has been in the region however, she evokes the feeling of that part of Central Europe oh so well.

The novel includes a pack of wolves, some witches and a bunch of vampires thrown in for good measure. For this story she has come up with a few legends and “facts” about supernaturals which is a nice touch. The legends of all intertwine in that part of the world; so the method used in this novel is accurate.

It reads well and does not hang around too long. There is none of the bloat that you find in modern gothic horror novels. While its plain to see that the author is a woman; from the romance aspects of the novel, there is none of the soap opera like plodding that can affect some novels in this genre. I found this far more enjoyable than the last few Anne Rice and Anita Blake novels.

Steph: The last line of the paragraph makes my day!

The fact several of the main characters start out in London is a nice touch. The spoiled upper class girl who gets more than she bargained for is most amusing as well. Might be a lesson to some of those in the UK/US who marry Eastern Europeans without finding out who they really are first.

Only one criticism and this is personal taste. Why does it always have to be the werewolf that is the evil one in the end? That said the author was keen to make sure her werewolves were not one-dimensional knuckle-dragging beasts.

I hope to hell that she decided to publish this via iUniverse and its not because publishers rejected her novel. Because any publisher who rejected this novel needs to seriously have their head examined.

STEPH: Thanks, Ian!

I enjoyed the novel immensely and was pleased to see that there will be a sequel in future. I hope that they author will include me on her review list once again. The fact I stayed up past midnight two days before an operation to finish this novel speaks volumes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's Book Shelf - What I'm Reading

TIES THAT BIND is by author Keena Kincaid and the book is published through "The Wild Rose Press." It's also available on ebook, but I have it in print. I enjoy reading romance, which this book is, and "The Wild Rose Press" has it listed in their Faery Line since it involves "light" magic.

So why am I reading this book? Because I loved the first book, Anam Cara by Keena. In that book, Bran ap Owen came to Carlisle looking for his soulmate, Liz. He had to make things right for them so they could finally be happy. His brother, Aeden, was tied into the "making things" right aspect. In that book, Aedan, and Liza's daughter, Tess, have a "first love" love affair, but are seperated when the book ends.

Ties that Bind is the sequel and tells Aedan and Tess's story. I've been looking forward to reading this book since it came out.

What I enjoyed about Anam Cara is that it's set in an historical setting, England in the 1160s during the time of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane. Aeden and Bran are mistrals. There's a also a nice dose of "magic" laced into the storyline. The clan from Duncarouch (sp?) are Sidhe and have magical abilities. Both Bran and Aedan have magical ablities. Lace in a little of magic, a little history, and a compelling love story and I'm hooked.

In "Ties That Bind," Aedan is sent to Carlisle to solve a mystery and encounters Tess. The chemistry between them is undenable to everyone around them. They try to deny it themselves, but I doubt they won't get far. There's also intrigue as to who fathered "Daz," the boy that Aedan looks after.

Here's a blurb for the book:
Out of place in the Plantagenet court, minstrel AEDAN ap OWEN misuses his Sidhe gifts for the king's dark business. Sent north to investigate rumors of treason and dispatch the troublemakers, Aedan discovers someone is murdering monks and stealing saints’ relics. And all clues point to Carlisle.

TESS, LADY of BRIDSWELL, refuses to rekindle her relationship with Aedan. She knows his reputation as a secret stealer—and she has a secret that must be kept. But her resolve falters when her uncle promises her hand to a man she despises and Aedan hounds her steps.

A would-be king uses the stolen relics to amplify his power, wielding it like a weapon. Meeting the traitor's magic with magic will prevent war, but it will also destroy Aedan’s chance to show Tess he has at last mastered the temptation of the ancient wisdom. Can Aedan renounce his magic to win Tess' heart anew or will he choose magic over love?

You can find Keena on the web at: if you want to check her out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Excerpt Monday - Destination: Berlin

This week's featured book is my first novel, DESTINATION: BERLIN. It's a miliary action/adventure with a "sweet" romance between Sharon and Dimitri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The inspiration for "Sharon and Dimitri" - Claire Danes as Sharon and Jacob Young as Dimitri.


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?”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kindles for Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Santa brought you a couple of items on your list. He brought me a Kindle. Hehe. Now I can stock up on some ebooks.

The Pros of my Kindle:
I can have a ton of books on it and it doesn't take up too much space.
I can take it to work and read. It's convientent to carry.
For those ebooks brought through Amazon, I can adjust the font as needed.
My books I bought for my Iphone app were in my account.
I can directly upload PDF Files to the Kindle.
The price of the books are very affordable.

The Cons of my Kindle:
I can directly upload PDF Files to my Kindle. The downside being is the font on the PDF is what you get and it's quite small. I can adjust the screen to make the font bigger but then I'm reading it on the side and it's a bit disconcerting.

The best way to read is to buy through Amazon. Not that I don't mind. The price is affordable and I can find just about anything I want on it.

Anyone else want to share their thoughts on Kindles, Ebook readers, and ebooks? I'd love to hear them.


Well, 2009 is winding down and it's been a good year. I can't complain. 4RV Publishing has a children's book it's going to put out and I have two books contracted through Desert Breeze, paranormal romances. I did NaNoWriMo and hit over 50K words in a month (a miracle considering my schedule!)

I hope to have a productive new year. My goals include finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, finishing a historical fiction about Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, becoming a Wild Rose author, Finishing Twilight over Moldavia. And you can always find me on as StephB.


My kids had a great Christmas. My son, Andrew, said the best part was opening gifts. Haha!! Joe's favorite gift was a SuperWhy Computer. Andrew's was the Super Mario Brothers Wii game, but he also liked the Indiana Jones DS game. Both boys loved baking cookies with me, but Joe was pretty messy about it. haha!!


Today's agent tip: Keep that query letter to one page. Agents get a ton of queries a week and they don't want to read past a page. Remember to add any writing credits you might have to the letter.


Stay tune in 2010 for updates to my writing, the publishing world, and ebooks.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Welcome to the Desert Breeze Scavenger Hunt!


Welcome to my blog, “Adventures in Moldavia,” for the Desert Breeze Scavenger Hunt. I’m very excited to have you peek in.

My first novel with Desert Breeze Publishing is due out in May 2010, and it is a paranormal romance. It takes place in 1901 at the end of the Victorian era. The world was growing fast due to industrialization. They had iceboxes, telephones, phonographs, and automobiles were just becoming popular. In fact, European automakers included Daimler, who named a car after his daughter, Mercedes. Carl Benz was thriving. The nobility and merchants could afford autos during this time, but autos themselves, weren’t quite priced low enough for the everyday man yet. Radio was only a few years off. It was an exciting time with many modern inventions. Still, dark legends and myths existed in small corners of the world.

The novel opens with Katherine Archibald, the niece of Lord Henry Archibald, reading a book. In walks a foreign man who finds her intriguing. He reveals himself to be a Hungarian count, Matthias Duma. Katherine is as intrigued by him as he is of her. After Matthias’s business at the Archibald’s is finished, he returns to his London townhouse and confides in his servant and friend, Lazlo, that he’s attracted to Katherine. It’s an attraction that rattles him to the core because Matthias, after all, is a werewolf. He asks Lazlo if he even has the right to make her fall in love with him.

That is what the novel dares to explore – Matthias is tormented by his condition, but he is a man, and the man wants a mate, a lover, and a wife. Quite a dilemma, isn’t it?

I know some say werewolves, “Argh! I don’t find them attractive at all.” I can’t say I blame you. What fascinates me about Matthias’s story are the psychological aspects. What does the man have to deal with when he isn’t a werewolf? There’s very little actual wolf scenes in the story. I want to explore Matthias’s psyche, not his transformation or the wolf.

“The Hungarian” was inspired by a short story I wrote called “The Wolf’s Kiss.” That story won an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest 2007 Popular Fiction contest in the romance category. After being well received on, I expanded it into a full length novel.

This version, due out in May, is very different from the first rough draft of the novel. I took a page out of King’s book, wrote my draft, got to know the characters, than wrote a 2nd draft, taking the story and characters in a different direction. This 2nd draft, I wrote in the first person from Katherine’s perspective. Then I showed Gail at Desert Breeze. She was interested, but wanted it in the 3rd person, hence this 3rd draft.


As with all my novels, I cast my characters. Since Matthias has such striking eyes, I cast Jonathan Rhys-Meyers from HBO’s “Tudors” fame. For Katherine, who just has a mane of beautiful, black curls, I cast an actress who was on “As The World Turns,” Justine Cotsonas.

England and Hungary prove a romantic setting for the novel. In fact, Matthias, my hero, was born in Hungary.


I also have a free short coming out for the Scavenger Hunt, “Under a Christmas Moon,” featuring Matthias and Katherine. It’s meant to stand alone, but I hope it piques your interest about the couple. Below is an excerpt from the opening chapter, and after the excerpt is your clue for the Desert Breeze author’s blog.

Thanks for visiting,


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

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

“Hello,” he said.
“You’re staring.”

“I am? I thought you were staring at me.”
He chuckled. “Perhaps I was admiring you.”
“Who else is here?”

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

“What’s your name?” he asked.

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

“Romeo, perhaps?”

“Then my name is Juliet.”

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

“Would you fall for Tristan?”
“Only if my name were Isolode.”

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

“Only Guinevere would believe your name was Arthur.”

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

“I might, if—”

“If what?”

“If I knew more about you.”

His eyes darkened a little. “What would you like to know?”

She paused, drinking in his features. His face was chiseled with an awkward scar on his right temple. His nose was perfect – slender – hinting at nobility. His lips were full, red, exuding with male sensuality. He was a vision of male virility, and she found it difficult to tame the unusual warmth that pooled inside her.

“Ask me three questions and I’ll give you three honest answers,” he said.

She stood up, nervously smoothing out the fold of her skirt. Were there limits to what she could ask him? Boundaries? “Is your name really Matthias?”


“Why did you come here today?”

“I have business with Lord Archibald.”

She opened her mouth to ask him her next question, but he swiftly crossed the distance between them. His dominant presence took over her personal space. She shivered from the excitement of being so close to him. He placed his finger to her lips. The touch made her tingle. Was he going to kiss her? “My turn for a question. Do you believe in the stars?”


The next Desert Breeze Scavenger Hunt Question:

What did Chrystal Kincaid do at Heather Graham's Vampire Ball during the 2009 Romantic Times Convention that now set the bar for future Desert Breeze authors?

Visit Chrystal's blog at:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

To Grandmother's House I go...

I live in California now, but when I was a little girl, I lived in New Hampshire, and some of my fondest memories is going to Grandmother's house for Christmas.

My grandmother was Ukranian, but she married a Polish guy and adapted his ways. She liked to be called Bopshie (Polish, I'm told for grandmother) but we grandkids just called her Bopie. She lived in a small rural NH town on the NH/VT/MA border called Hinsdale and the wintertime, it sure got snowy.

I lived in the big city, Manchester. The drive was a 2 hour drive through rural NH on state roads and over a hill. It really was a journey out of a postcard.

We started in Manchester and took the 101 WEST toward Bedford. Bedford was still like Manchester, haha! We went through Amherst, Milford, and Wilton. It Wilton we had to take a turn and go over a bridge. Hey, that was excitement to a little kid!

After Wilton, we went up Temple Mountain. Our ears would pop every time! I can't be sure of the elevation now because it's been over 20 years since I've taken the journey, but for ears to pop, I think it was pretty high. We traveled through Peterbourgh. We traveled through Dublin, Marbourgh, and then hit Keene. Keene was considered a city, like Manchester was, but it was considerably smaller.

After Keene, we switched highways went through Swanzy and Winchester where we hit the 119 state highway and took that through to Hindsale. The pictures I've found where of winter scenes along the way. One is the town gazebo in Ashelot, the town before Hinsdale. In the winter time, it would be very snowy. (As I'm sure the pictures relate) Icicles would hang off the trees. It would be cold, but that cold captured a beauty that is almost impossible to put into words. On the way to Bopie's house we'd sing Christmas songs knowing our gifts were snug in the truck.

Winter in New Hampshire certainly brought out the "heartidiness" in a person. Wherever you are, treasure your winter memories.


TOMORROW: THE DESERT BREEZE SCAVENGER HUNT comes to MOLDAVIA!! Be here while I gush about my Desert Breeze release, "The Hungarian," and get the next clue for the Hunt!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Query Letters, Newsletters & Ebook Readers

Gosh, can you believe it's Saturday? The weekend snuck up fast didn't it? Today's theme is usually query tips and literary agents.

QUERY TIP: Don't compare yourself or the work you're writing about to another author, usually more famous. Agents don't want to see that. While your story may have paranormal elements like vampires, don't say it's like "Anne Rice." Let the characters and the story sell itself without the Anne Rice reference.

LITERARY AGENTS: I love hanging out at Nathan Bransford's blog. I can't gush enough about him because he's easy to read, straight to the point and very topicial. If you get a chance, hang out on his blog. On the side bar, he has what type of manuscripts he's looking for and he's got a good tutuorial about how to query and format a query letter. If you're interested in solicating for an agent, his blog is a great place to start.

Here's a link:


I published a monthly newsletter with news from the writing and publishing world, along with tidbits on the holidays, writing excerpts, weight watcher receipes, book reviews and poetry. In fact, I'm in the proofing stages for my DEC newsletter and I'll be sending it out on Monday. If you would like to sign up, please visit my website at: and on the home page scroll down to the bottom and fill in the form. I'd love to have you on my mailing list!


All I want for Christmas is an EBOOK reader.

No seriously. (And I think my Kindle is in the mail. My husband can't keep a secret to save his life.)

I like to hang out on Publisher's Weekly because they examine trends in the publishing industry and since the intro of the Kindle, ebooks have taken off. There were ebook readers before, but the Kindle benefited from Amazon's high profile. In 2008 alone, ebooks were over a 50 million dollar in the US. It's the way of the future.

Can store over a 100 books on most ebooks readers.
Convientent - you can take them ANYWHERE and read them ANYWHERE - especially while waiting in the dentist and doctor's office.
Saves on ink and paper.

You can't have an author autograph the story. :(

Love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

California Tidbit Thursday - Napa & Sonoma Valleys

You hear about Napa all the time - it's the hub of the California wine industry. In fact, some of the best California wines come from Napa. I've been to Napa on several occasions (it's been awhile) but I've always enjoyed my trips up there. For me, I find Napa and Sonoma very romantic. Traveling down the roads, visiting wineries, that's fun to me.

Napa is quaint, mostly rural, with goregeous views of the landscape. But what makes it so special? Because of it's unique climate, it's a perfect place to grow and harvest grapes for wines. In fact, the movie, "Bottle Shock," is a great movie about the California wine area and how Napa & Sonoma counties came to gain "respectability" in the wine world. I highly recommend seeing it, especially if you're a wine person.

Napa is a little cooler than Sonoma county. Napa Valley is widely considered one of the top American Viticultural Areas in California, and all of the United States. Robert Mondavi is probably one of the best known wine growers in Napa. His wine is world famous. I had a chance to go to the Mondavi winery and it's something special.

Napa Valley even has it's own website:

My favorite wines are the Cabinet Savingion's from this area. I much prefer reds. I also enjoy a good pinot and merlot. If you're ever up in the San Franscisco area, Napa and Sonoma counties are you're less than 30 minutes away from some of the best wineries in the US.

Info from this article came from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On the Reading List

As well as writing, I love to love read. I suppose I enjoy historicals the most, but here's what's on my list. I'd love to hear what's on your list as well!

I just finished this book. Written by Jodi Picoult, this book is a fictional acount of a high school shooting in Sterling, NH. It's my first book I've read by Picoult and I enjoyed it very much. It's considered, "mainstream." I loved how Jodi got into her characters. There was so much depth to the writing, I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the setting, Sterling, NH, which is in my native NH. I could easily picture the area she was writing about.

Written by Carolly Erickson, this is a biography about Alexandra, the last Czarina of Russia. I've always been fascinated by Russian History since I took a history class my senior year of high school. This biography is very rich in detail and Erickson has a great writing style. Surprisingly, I was disappointed with her fictional account of Tatiana's story in "The Czarina's Daughter," but this book rocks the house.

This is written by Jillian Hunter and is in her Boscastle series. I love Hunter, so I enjoyed the book. She's got an writing style that makes it easy to read. I liked Eleanor a lot. Sebastien was likable, too, but if anything, I would have liked him to actually say "I love you," to her.

I'm almost done with this. It's by Phillipa Gregory and it's about Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's queen. I love Gregory, but I'm disappointed with the POV narration in this one. It's present tense and because of it, it's hard for her to cover those events that are important to Elizabeth. Elizabeth's story is very rich, but I'm disappointed with how Gregory told it.


News from the Publishing World - Misc Christmas Thoughts


First, I want to apologize for not being around much. Truth be told, real has me busy this holiday season. I just finished my Christmas card list, but now I have to wrap gifts and keep the chocolate in the advent calender flowing. Haha. Which kind of takes me to my theme today - Christmas traditions.

When I was a wee thing, I remember my Dad would buy lobster and we'd all go over my Granny's house for a Christmas Eve lobster dinner. Being a wee one, I didn't appreciate the lobster at the time.

When we got older, we used to go to my grandmother's house (on my mother's side) for Christmas Eve. Since I lived in NH, snow would litter the ground. It would be COOL. The wind chill would put it about 20 degrees. We'd have to warm up the car before going out to it.

We'd make pedogies (homemade) and have a non meat dinner before opening gifts. I loved the comdarie of making homemade pedogies. The whole family would gather around and one would roll out the dough, one would use a cookie cutter to make the circles and one would stuff the dough. It was my job to boil the pedogies and then fry them up in a pan with butter & onions. Homemade pedogies taste fab, but looking back, that butter & onion couldn't have been good for the ticker! Haha! I would go to Midnight Mass with my aunt Mary and on Christmas we'd have a big turkey dinner and visit the aunts and uncles.

Nowadays, my Christmas traditions are a little different since I live in California. There's no 20 degree temperatures in California. I'm kind of sad that my boys won't know a snowy Christmas, but I try to make it as Christmasy as I can. I light an advent candle for meals and I have an advent calender filled with choc and lollipops. I put out a navity and each day Andrew and I add a piece. We have an ornament dinner every year and exchange personalized ornaments with family members. Opening gifts are usually reserved for Christmas morning. That's what they did for my husband's family when he was a wee one.


Both my boys are excited for Christmas this year. Joe is 3 and is just starting to "get it." He goes to the advent calender every day which is cute.

Christmas traditions are important because, for me, it makes the family unique. While lobster isn't on the menu anymore, I made a clam chowder and Brent will cook up a rib roast for the ornament dinner. I made sugar cookies with Andrew and he loves it. Joe should be old enough to get it this year. We'll see.

I hope you're having a good holiday season and enjoying your own Christmas traditions.



Did I tell you the reason why I neglected the blog? Part was because of National Novel Writing Month. I was tying my fingers off trying to get to 50K words. And I did! I'm a winner at 50,291. Mind you, my novel is probably just a little over 1/2 done but I've got a good start with it. I have to admit, I entered Novemeber prepared. I had character bios, maps, outlines and I was ready to write. I don't think without that prep work, I would have made my goal.


The other reason is the real life business of the holiday season. I work from 6 pm to 2 am and I usually have to get up at 630 am. I am exhausted all of the time. It sucks. I have to do my house work, and the Christmas extras. Not that I mind, but I find there's just not enough time in the day.

My NaNoWriMo project was "The Count's Lair" a book that will be published by Desert Breeze publishing. I'm very excited about the story. My hero is a werewolf who falls in love with a talented pianist in Hungary 1901. I love the time period. While werewolves don't have the appeal that vampires do, I enjoy them because I explore the more pyschological aspects of it.


New from the Publishing World.

I try to keep up with this one which isn't easy. I usually get my news from Publisher's Weekly as I find they are the most up to date:

A new program debuts on Sirius XM Book Radio this week: “Penguin Classics on Air,” a half-hour series devoted to the discussion and exploration of some of Penguin Classics’ 1,500-plus titles. Penguin employees will write and produce the series, and the show will air twice a week—Mondays from 3:00 to 3:30 P.M. and Thursdays from 11:30 P.M. to midnight—on Sirius 117 and XM 163.

It sounds interesting. This week is about Jane Austen. Having just seen Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly and watching Becoming Jane, consider me a Jane Austen fan. Surprisingly, I didn't read her in High school, so I'm just now getting introduced to Jane.

I'm a firm believer in entering writing contests. It's where I cut teeth and I've entered the Writer's Digest Contests since 2006. Here's a contest being offered through Publisher's Weekly and Amazon:

Also today, Penguin Group (USA) and Amazon announced the third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. For the first time, the competition will award two grand prizes: one for general fiction and one for best young adult novel. The 2010 competition will also be open to novels that have been previously self-published. The competition runs from January 25, 2010 and until February 7 at

Here's something a little interesting: A Candianan Private school is switching to EBook readers!

The Blyth Academy, a private school in Toronto, is replacing its traditional textbooks with the Sony Reader Digital Book which will be loaded with electronic versions of students' textbooks. “There may be one or two [books] that we still find are better in the printed version, or that maybe haven’t been fully converted into electronic texts, but we’re hoping by the end of the year, that we’ll have all of our texts completely in electronic format,” said Blyth director of development Brandon Kerstens. He added that some of Blyth’s approximately 170 students in Toronto have opted to continue using hard copies of the books.

The school is maintaining its library of printed books, and students will still read fiction in printed versions. “We’re not doing away with printed text altogether because novels are so beloved, and people love to have their novels in a printed version,” said Kerstens.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome LK Hunsaker - Author of "Off The Moon"

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daws: Sounds like blackmail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daws: Don’t print that.

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

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

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

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

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

AK: Is the girl hanging around slowing your progress?

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

Daws: Reynauld. You want him to print that?

RR: Why not?

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

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

AK: Should?

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

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

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

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

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

RR: So it’ll give her a challenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daws: Well over.

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

RR: Well, for the record..

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

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

AK: At this point? So possibly…

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

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

Author note: the interview with Ned (Ryan’s drummer) is here in order to understand the kitten reference if you missed it:


Buy Link for Off the Moon :

Off The Moon website:

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

Off The Moon
LK Hunsaker

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

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

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

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

Thanks for letting me chat here today, Steph!

Next up— Off The Moon: The Inside Scoop, hosted by The Pen Muse, Dec 1

The full tour itinerary is available at

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week 4 NaNoWriMo Update! Finished!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He smiled at her. “Are you cold?”

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

“I suppose I am.”

“Why is that?”

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

“How can that be?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Complicated?” she questioned.

“Unbelievable, almost.”

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

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

“Bela, meet us here in two hours.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday's Writing Tip - Dialogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Hope those tips helped.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week 3 NaNoWriMo Update - Slogging on

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

He giggled. “Cluck, Cluck, Cluck.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 2 NaNoWriMo 09 update - plugging away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find me on the official site at:

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

California Tidbit - The Pigeon Point Lighthouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing Genres - An Overview of Romance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Excerpt Monday - The Fall of the Wall, Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s in your briefcase?”

“My paperwork. Border crossing documentation.”

“Let me see it,” he said firmly.

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


“I’m not lying to you, Jr. Sgt.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to check me out on the official site, here's my link:

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

Have a great week NaNoWriMo'ing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Writing Tip Tuesday - Descriptions & Drama

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

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

Here's some tips:

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

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

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

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

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

The examples above use a good economy of words.

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

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

Hope that helps. Remember:

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

NaNoWriMo Write on!