Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Trivia 2011

Hello, everyone! I've got some interesting New Year's trivia to share with you. Answer all my trivia questions correctly and your name will be put in a hat for my drawing. If I pick your name, you'll receive a print copy of your choice of the following:

Destination: Berlin
Across The Fickle Winds of History
The Giving Meadow
A Christmas Collection, Stimulating
The Ethereal Gazette #12

I'll pick two winners and announce them on Monday, 3 JAN.

#1 Who established the tradition of setting New Years resolutions?

#2 Who wrote Auld Lang Syne?

#3 What year did the 1st New Year's Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York?

#4 Who established Jan 1st as the start of the New Year?

#5 Which city hosts the 1st major New Year's Eve celebration each year?

#6 What year was the Tournament of Roses Parade established?

#7 The Dutch believe that eating WHAT will bring good luck for the new year?

HINT: If you visit the HEA Blog and the Desert Breeze blog you'll find the answers to the questions.


Have a happy and prosperous new year and good luck with the trivia.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Heart of Moldavia

THE SET UP: This is a FREE read offered by Desert Breeze Publishing and is a "prequel" to the Moldavian Moon Series. Book 1, The Wolf's Torment, will be released in MAY 2011. In this excerpt, Mihai is talking to a "mysterious" woman in the woods outside of his castle.


Snow collected on the shoulders of her cape, but she brushed it off. "Why did you stay away from our dreams? I missed you."

He stiffened his chin, feeling a tad bit defensive. "My father sent me to study in England."

"Ah, the distance. I understand now."
"I'm here now."

She smiled. "We will meet soon."
He arched an eyebrow. "Meet?"

She stepped forward, stopping directly in front of him. "You truly don't understand? I'm not quite sure I do either, but I know this -- you are the prince of my dreams, the only man for me."

"How can you know this?"

"I know what I dream and I know my heart. I do not deny it."

"What's your name?"

She smiled again and this time a small dainty dimple appeared in her cheek. "You know, My Prince. You've always known."

He crossed his arms more confused than ever. "Why are you here?"

"It's Christmas."

"Yes, it is."

She reached into the pocket of her cape and produced a glass ball with a multi-faceted surface. It reflected light, spinning a rainbow prism when it caught the sunlight in just the right angle. His mother used to play with a similar one when he was young. She taught him how to catch the light and throw it.

"A Christmas gift for my prince."

A warm blast shot through his hand and up his arm when he caressed her fingers to take the gift from her. Their eyes met and in that moment he realized that she had loved him all her life. And he felt guilty for not paying attention to his dream earlier -- for giving into passion with Alexandra.

He held her hand for an extra second. "I have nothing to give you."

"You gave me my life. I risked much to bring you this gift."

"I have no keepsake for you."

"Nor do I require one. Merry Christmas, My Prince."

She stepped away and walked toward the trees.

"Wait! Please, tell me your name."

Here's a link to the FREE download. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Post - The 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 days of Christmas is one of our favorite carols of the seasons, but have you ever wondered about it's origins? Here's some interesting tidbits:

The song was first published in England in 1780, but there's strong textual evidence that suggests the song is much older and has French roots.

In fact, 3 French versions of the song are known. If you take "A Partridge in a Pear Tree" literally, the only type of partridge that perches in pear trees with any frequency is the red-legged partridge – found in France. This partridge was not successfully introduced into England until 1770.

The song was brought to the U.S. in 1910 by Emily Brown, who was a teacher in Milwaukee, WI. She heard the song in England and needed a song for her Christmas pageant.

On a more religious note, the 12 days of Christmas usually start on Christmas and last until the Feast of Epiphany on the 6th of January in most Christian religions.

My son, Andrew and our Christmas Tree 2010

Modern folklore implies the song was used a "catechism song" for Catholics in England between 1558-1829 when Catholicism was frowned upon. Here's how it was used:

A Partridge in a Pear tree: Jesus
2 turtle does: Old & New Testament
3 French Hens – the theological virtues: faith, hope & love.
4 calling (colly) birds – four gospels
5 gold rings – The Torah, the 1st 5 books of the Old Testament
6 geese a-laying – six days of creation
7 swam a-swimming – 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 maids a-milking – The 8 Beatitudes
9 ladies dancing – 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 lords a-leaping – 10 Commandants
11 pipers piping – 11 faithful Apostles
12 drummers drumming – 12 points of the Apostles' Creed

In 1984, the total of all goods and services was given values - $12,623.10. In 2010, the total value was $23,439.00. And the services are considered hired, not purchased.

There are minor variants on the song. For example: calling birds for colly birds (blackbird)

Golden for gold rings.

Currently, English composer Frederic Austin arranged the standard version. The copyright was registered in 1909 and is still active by it's owners, Novello & Co. Limited.

May you all have a happy and fulfilling 12 days of Christmas.


Info for this blog post was taken from Wikipedia:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Scoop from the Publishing World

Hi all, Thought I'd catch up a bit. It was great having Diane Craver visit the blog. I love Diane's books. In fact, I just finished reading A Christmas Collection: Sensual from Victory Tales Press where Diane has a story in it. Her stoy is "The Proposal." It's a contemporary. Tyler is in love with his best friend, Jackie, but Jackie is seeing Brad. What I loved about the story is how - when Tyler finally fesses up to his feelings, how the characters take a long look at their feelings and then are open and honest about them. It's very refreshing. I enjoyed the whole anthology and I'll be working on a review shorty.

I just posted my review for Keena Kincaid's novel, "Enthralled." I loved the story and I'm going to miss the Druids of Duncarnoch. I would love to see more in her series. Keena's also got a contemporary out called Something More and I enjoyed it very much. Keena's dialogue in both stories are very engaging.

The Christmas Tree is up and I'm about 1/2 done my wrapping. Time to zip off to Costco. Who doesn't like Costco? Give a shout out if you're a Costco fan!


I'll be sending out my monthly newsletter tomorrow. I took NOV off for NaNoWriMo. There's lots of cool stuff in it including my NaNoWRiMo experience, an excerpt, a receipe, news from the publishing world, the editor's corner, an a look at a small press, but a lot of other little tidbits. If you'd like to sign up go to and scroll down to the bottom. Fill out the form and send it in.

**The Reviews are in**

I've gotten some great reviews in recently.

Holly from Long & Short Romance Reviews gave the Borealis II Anthology 4.5 Stars.
"This second installment of the Borealis anthology is every bit as entertaining as the first. I was delighted to see old friends back in this book, and I love that some characters carry over from story to story. I enjoyed catching up on the happenings of those from book one, and the characters in book two are all intriguing and well crafted. I also loved the surprises in each story, making reading this an enjoyable experience... The unique atmosphere of the Borealis is refreshing, as it is not the bright and shiny perfect example of technology that so many “space operas” depict, but rather a view of the decrepit and seedy side that is always so much more interesting to delve into... This is highly recommended for those who like equal doses of romance, science fiction and danger, with some humor thrown in to ease the tension."

Diane Craver said this about The Hungarian:
"I couldn't stop reading The Hungarian because I was swept instantly into Katherine Archibald's world as she fell in love with Hungarian Count Matthias Duma... The beautiful romance between Katherine and Matthias is inspiring as they struggle against many challenges in their relationship. You never stop rooting for these characters as they learn to accept each other's strengths and differences. Stephanie's descriptions of the various settings give exceptional images and a wonderful feel-good warmth as you explore the time period of 1901...The Hungarian is an exciting story of love and hope. It's a must read for any lover of romances. I'm looking forward to reading Count's Lair, the next book in the The Budapest Moon series by Stephanie Burkhart."

Midwest Book Reviews gave "The Giving Meadow" 5 Stars
The Giving Meadow is a simple, softcover picturebook about a little caterpillar, hungry and alone, who befriends the generous creatures of a meadow. One by one they help him, and as a result of their kindness, he is able to transform into a beautiful butterfly. Colorful illustrations add just the right touch to this gentle heartwarming story about the transformative power of sharing.

I'm going to leave you with some interesting buzz from the Publishing World which I consoldate from Publisher's Weekly Online:

Google ebooks went live on 6 DEC 2010 with close to 3 million titles.

Google's ebooks offers a nice alternative to Apple and Amazon for independent booksellers.

With $139 Kindles introduced in July, it helped to grow sales of over 800,000 units from July to November.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Welcome Guest Author - Diane Craver

STEPH: Diane, welcome to Romance Under the Moonlight. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

DIANE: Steph, thank you so much for having me here today. I live about 26 miles from Cincinnati , Ohio . My husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last August. We were blessed with six children - five daughters and one son. Writing is my passion but I also enjoy scoring tests for various states several months out of the year. The weird thing is I’m great at scoring high school science tests and science was my weakest subject and least favorite in school.

STEPH: Tell us about your Christmas Story.

DIANE: Here is a blurb for my story, “The Proposal”:
Jacqueline Andrews hopes her boyfriend Brad’s surprise is an engagement ring for her twenty-sixth birthday. Her best friend, Tyler Jordan, wants Jacqueline to be happy, but not with Brad. Tyler regrets blowing off Jacqueline’s confession of love for him before he left for college. When he returns to their small town as a physician’s assistant, he falls in love with her. He needs to win her love back. Will his hot kisses sway her? Or is she going to marry Brad?

STEPH: How did it find a home at VTP?

DIANE: I had joined RAMP, Rebecca Vickery’s wonderful yahoo group. It’s a great place to visit for readers and authors. I already respected Rebecca as a publisher and a writer herself, so it seemed natural for me to sign a contract for one of her Christmas anthologies. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up on and I have enjoyed being a part of A Christmas Collection: Sensual.

STEPH: What genres do you write?

DIANE: I write contemporary romance, inspirational, chick-lit mystery, women’s fiction, young adult and historical fiction.

STEPH: What about writing Christmas stories appeal to you?

DIANE: Writing Christmas stories is appealing because it’s the time of the year when everything seems magical and miracles happen when you least expect them!

STEPH: What's your favorite Christmas story that you've read? Seen on TV?

DIANE: I love Jude Deveraux’s story, “Just Curious”. It’s in an anthology titled A GIFT OF LOVE with Judith McNaught and other authors. It’s an absolutely delightful story with beautiful widow Karen Lawrence not trusting her boss, MacAllister Taggert. She thinks he’s just a playboy and a heartbreaker but she has a secret yearning to have a child before her biological clock expires. He seems to be the best man for the job even though she doesn’t want to become involved with him and have her heart broken.

A TV movie I have enjoyed is “Christmas in Connecticut ” starring Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson with Tony Curtis. It’s a fun romantic comedy made in 1992.

STEPH: Can you share a Christmas tradition with us?

DIANE: We attend 5:00 Mass on Christmas Eve and our daughter Amanda (born with Down syndrome) serves at this church service. She’s done this for the last several years. She does an awesome job as a server. Afterwards, we come home and eat lasagna.

STEPH: Can you an excerpt? Buy Links?

Here's an excerpt from "The Proposal":

Celebrating Thanksgiving at his parents’ house might be miserable. If Brad proposed, Jacqueline would be ecstatic. But he’d have a hard time pretending to be thrilled with their news. I want Jacqueline to be happy…but not with Brad. She’d loved him enough once to pour her heart out to him. That love must still exist somewhere for him. If buried deep in her heart, he needed to get her past love for him to surface again.

Jacqueline walked into the kitchen and asked, "How about ice cream for dessert?"

He patted his stomach. "I guess I have room for a small dish of ice cream. Don’t tell my mom, but your lasagna’s even better than hers."

"That’s quite a compliment because everything your mother makes is delicious." She smiled at him. "I just had a thought. Would you like to come here for lasagna on Christmas Eve, and go to Mass with us? We can go to the five o'clock service and eat here afterwards."

"I like that. Midnight Mass is too crowded. When’s Brad coming for Christmas?"

"He’s not sure yet." She opened the dishwasher and pulled a tray out. She sighed. "The dishes are clean in here. Alex never emptied it. He can remember to ask me fifty times a day if he can drive, but he can’t remember to do his chores."

He carried his plate to the counter, then watched Jacqueline lean against the refrigerator. She wore a black sweater with her tight fitting jeans. At the gleam in her brown eyes, he tugged her into his arms. Her breathing became uneven, but she only squirmed slightly. He felt relief that she didn’t break his embrace. His pulse quickened with her warm body against him. She looked too adorable not to kiss. His lips pressed against hers, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. She returned his kiss with sweet passion. She wasn’t kissing him like a best friend, but a lover.

Suddenly her body stiffened and she looked up at him. " Tyler , what’s going on?"

"I had to kiss you. It’s not my fault you look so sexy in that black sweater." He saw her frown so continued, "Hey, you waited to get the ice cream. Then you gave me a look like you wanted me to kiss you."

"I did no such thing. I was just waiting for you to say what kind of ice cream you wanted."

He chuckled. What a liar she was. She wanted him to kiss her, but he wasn’t about to mention that fact again to her. "How could I tell you that when I don’t know what you have?"


Amazon: Kindle -
Print -
Ebook, Smashwords:
Create Space, Print book:
Victory Tales Press:

STEPH: Where can we find you on the web?

DIANE: I have a website, and a blog, I'm also on Facebook. This week I have all the Victory Tales Press Christmas anthology authors visiting my blog. I hope people will visit and leave comments. I’ll draw a winner and the giveaway is a $5 GC to Amazon and a download of one of the anthology books.

Thanks so much for visiting!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Steph's Favorite Books from 2010!

I just want to give a shout to Celia Yeary who inspired me to come up with a list of my favorites. From now until Christmas, I'll be sharing my favorites with you.

Most of you know I'm an avid reader. Here are some of my favorites that I've read in 2010. Enjoy! Smiles

Angeline Jellybean
By Crystalee Calderwood
5 Stars

This book is geared for 3-7 year olds. In my church, I help to teach the 3's in our Sunday Preschool program. I bought the book for the class and Angeline Jellybean is a favorite with the children!

"Angeline Jellybean" is a colorful mix of fun, jellybeans, and healthy food by Crystalee Calderwood. What happens when a girl eats too many jellybeans? Ask Angeline! "Angeline Jellybean" shows young readers the benefits of making good choices. It's a wonderful addition for any young reader's bookshelf.


Chosen Target
By Melanie Atkins
5 Stars

What I love about Atkins is how she really engages the reader. I was on the edge of my seat. I'm also a sucker for a good love scene and Atkins writes the best I've read. Here's a couple of clips from my review:

A worthy installment in the New Orleans detective series, "Chosen Target" offers excitement and fingernail biting suspense. Jadan Calloway is the 'chosen target' and it's up to detective commander Cole McAlister to keep her safe.

Atkins's love scenes are charged with electricity and passion. She'll leave the reader breathless. Chosen Target is a high-paced ride filled with excitement, danger, and love.


Claude and Camille
By Stephanie Cowell
4 stars

What I enjoyed about this story is that it really showed Monet's heart, his inspiration, his passion. Monet is one of my favorite artists and it was wonderful discovering his story under Cowell's pen. Here's a clip from my review:

Cowell pens a poignant tale full of spirit and the drive to succeed with "Claude and Camille," the story of Monet and the muse that was his wife, Camille Doncieux.

"Claude and Camille" is a fascinating read, taking a look at the roots of impressionism and the love that inspired a true artist.


French Peril
By Mona Risk
4.5 Stars

I can't gush enough about Mona's international contempories. This story had the perfect blend of suspense and romance set in the romantic French Loire valley. I was hooked!

Risk pens a thrilling romantic suspense with "French Peril." Set in the picturesque Loire Valley, Cheryl Stewart is on the hunt for a rare statue of the Madonna. Will the chateau's charming owner, Francois de Valroux, be a help or a hindrance?

This is one story that will have the reader on their toes until the very end.


Muddy Waters
By Maggie Toussaint
4.5 Stars

What I loved about Maggie's story is how the supporting cast of characters really came alive to give the story an authentic small town feel. Here's a blurb:

Toussaint crafts an edge of your seat romantic suspense with "Muddy Waters." Set in a rural, Georgia coastal town called Mossy Bog, Roxie Whitaker is a real estate agent with dreams of opening a maritime museum, only when she meets Sloan Harding, Mossy Bog's long lost son, does she realize there's more to life. Dare she take a chance on Sloan – and love?

"Muddy Waters" is a thrilling kayak ride full of suspense and romance!


By Keena Kincaid

To be honest, I haven't finished yet, but I'm ""this"" close to being done. What I love about Kincaid is that she blends magic and history flawlessly! I love history and I love magic and she's taken the two passions I love to read and brought them together in a fascinating story. Enthralled is definitely her most complex offering to date and I have loved every page of it. Ami is wild with her magic, and yet William accepts it with no reservations.


One Snowy Knight
By Deborah Macgillivray
5 Stars

What inspired me to pick up this book? The book trailer! No kidding. It has a historical setting and I LOVE reading historicals. There's also a bit of magic and wonderfully romantic characters.

"One Snowy Knight" is excellent storytelling, full of wishes, hopes, and romance. Macgillivray sets her story in 1296 against a lush Scottish yuletide. "One Snowy Knight" is book three in the "Dragons of Challon" series, but stands alone well.

The love scenes capture the rich sensually that belongs to Noel and Skena. Macgillivray has blended history, romance, and suspense effortlessly making the story a captivating read.


The Making of a Duchess
By Shana Galen
5 Stars

I discovered Galen after winning a blog contest for the book. I LOVED it. I adored the fact her hero was half French and it had a historical setting, a setting I'm a sucker for her, but what I really enjoyed was Galen's writing. It was crisp, sharp, engaging, and Sarah was a perfect heroine!

"The Making of a Duchess" is full of adventure, suspense, romance, and love. Set in London, 1801, the novel's hero is Julien Harcourt, the exiled French due de Valère. Julien is intent on going to France to look for his brother, Armand. Enter the comtesse Serafina Artois. Will the attractive comtesse prove a distraction for Julien and his plans?

The love scenes are sensual and capture the wonderment and beauty of true love. "The Making of a Duchess" is a delicious read from the first page to the last.


White Tiger
By Vijaya Schartz
5 Stars

I always wanted to read this book, but didn't get around to it until mid-summer, but when I did, I was hooked. I love Schartz's imagination and creativity.

Schartz has created a world rich in futuristic mythology with "White Tiger," Book One in the Chronicles of Kassouk. Tora is a human soldier whose loyalty to the Emperor is without question. As she follows Field Marshall Killion to war, she meets a man called Dragomir who challenges all that she knows to be true about the world.

From the first page to the last, "White Tiger" will take the reader for a breathless ride filled with action, adventure, myths, and love.


By Gail Delaney
5 Stars

I loved the love story between Victor and Beverly. Both Victor and Beverly are wounded souls. When they come together they find a comfort they wouldn't have found with each other. The love story is haunting and I'm a sucker for a haunting romance.

"Outcasts" is a stellar installment in "The Phoenix Rebellion," Delaney's sci-fi/speculative romantic fiction series. Dr. Beverly Surimoto is one of the leaders of the Rebellion, but she's also an empath. Victor is an Areth who has been in a coma since joining the Rebellion. When Victor wakes up, he displays violent tendencies, almost killing Michael before Dr. Quinn can subdue him.

Delaney's created an outstanding series with a cast of characters that resonates with readers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

Andrew decorating the tree

I all, with Christmas around the corner, I thought I'd through out my thoughts on the holiday and what I do to prepare.

Growing up, I never had an advent candle. Or an advent calendar.

I always wanted one, too. I'm a person who likes symbolism. I get it. I enjoy it. And I'm hoping to pass a little of that love onto my boys. Ever since Andrew was born, I began using an advent candle. I have a green wreath, 3 purples, and 1 pink candle. I tell Andrew each candle has a "meaning." Hope, Love, Joy, and Faith. We burn our candles whenever we eat. So far we've done Hope and Faith.

This year, I've put verses of the Christmas story out of Luke in the Advent Calendar along with a little treat. Andrew enjoys reading the verses. Joe, who is 4, just wants to make sure he gets his share of the treat.

Every week that Andrew goes to Religious Ed, he brings a canned good out of our pantry for the food drive at the church. It's a very rewarding feeling to give so unselfishly.

Joe, who is 4, goes to Little Church. It's a preschool for children while Mass is going on. I help to teach the 3's Little Church. This last week he learned about St. Nick and how St. Nick would leave money and items in the stockings or shoes near the fireplace. St. Nick was called Sinterklass in the Netherlands. Out of Sinterklass grew Santa Claus.

Joseph decorating the tree.
This season, as we prepare for Christmas, let's not forget the reason for the reason.

Luke 2, 1-7

In those days a decree went out from aesar Augustus that the whoel world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galiee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house of and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrohed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clohtes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Does anyone have a Christmas book they want to share? One they like to read to their children?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Welcome Guest Author - Danielle Thorne

The 2010 Goodie Tour: A Holiday Penuche Treat
Danielle Thorne, author of BY HEART AND COMPASS and other Romantic Adventures.

Happy Holidays! Thanks for letting me visit today, Stephanie. This is my first December stop for my Goodie Tour that began in November. I thought it would be fun to share my favorite sweet recipes with some of my sweet reads for the holidays.

Today I’m excited to share my Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting recipe, one I picked out especially for this blog because I know, you, Stephanie, have traveled all around the world. This simple spice cake, with all of the exotic flavors of cinnamon and cloves, is topped with a thick Penuche Frosting that goes on warm and liquid then hardens to a brown sugar crust. It is a glorious icing and fits perfectly with a spice cake recipe I collected from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook over twenty years ago. Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting is one of my favorite holiday temptations.

Try this delicious cake for the holidays and bring your family and friends sweet bliss!


2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¾ teaspoon of baking soda
¾ teaspoon of cloves
¾ teaspoon of cinnamon
2/3 cup of shortening
¾ cup of brown sugar
1 cup of buttermilk or sour milk
3 eggs
½ cup of walnuts or pecans

Combine the first seven ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add shortening, brown sugar and milk. Mix until flour is moistened. Beat two minutes. Add eggs. Beat two minutes more. Stir in nuts. Turn into greased and lightly floured cake pan. (May use two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9X13.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is golden brown. Cool before frosting.

Penuche Frosting

½ cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
¼ cup of milk
3 cups of powdered sugar

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Cook and stir until bubbly. Remove from heat and add milk, beating until smooth. By hand, beat in powdered sugar. Pour over cake and spread. Icing will harden.

Yummy stuff!

For a sweet read to go with your holiday, escape to the Caribbean where legends of pirate ships and buried treasure still run rampant. Check out my recent release, BY HEART AND COMPASS! Here’s a little taste:

When Lacey Whitman buys a restored Victorian home, she never dreams discovering an antique diary will lead her back to sea and into the arms of the dive bum she’d rather forget. Her habit of living in the past comes to a screeching halt as diver Max Bertrand and the diary of his ancestor take Lacey on the quest of a lifetime: To discover and raise the privateer ship, Specter, and bring the treasure and legacy of a true hero home again. But will finding it cost her heart?

Desert Breeze Publishing:

Thanks again, Stephanie, and Happy Holidays to you and all of your readers!
Danielle Thorne

Blogging at:
Visit Me!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My 2010 NaNoWriMo Adventure is over.... kinda.

Whewww.... can you beleve it? 50,206 words in 30 days. That's a lot of words. I am exhausted and drained and I must keep going because the novel is nowhere near done. But I got a good start. That said, I thought share some of my 2010 NaNoWriMo experiences with you.

I knew in October I wanted to get involved in NaNoWriMo again. I did it last year, enjoyed the craziness, and I was up for it again. Having a story due in May 2011, I decided to focus on a semi major revision of the story. I got out my maps, did up my character sketches, drafted research notes and outlined. For me, I need to do this premliminary work or I won't be ready to write on day one and I need to be ready to write on Day 1.

What makes NaNoWriMo demanding for me are my "outside challenges." There's the fact I'm a full time working mom. I answer 911 for LAPD. I'm grateful to have a job, but it's there. The good thing is I can write on my down time at work. The bad thing is because there's no computers, I have to write long hand and then type it up at home. I also have two boys, 8 & 4 and I'm always keeping up with them. There was soccer, gymnastics, religion education, doctor's appt and misc with them.


Day 1 hit and I hooked up at the Panera with Jenifer Ranieri. Jen does the cover art for Desert Breeze and lives maybe 20 minutes from me. She's also writer. It really helped that I could meet up with her and work on my project. Jen has a great sense of humor and that's really motivating for me.

I pretty much stuck to 1600 words a day. I'd like to think I'm slow and steady. Hey, slow and steady wins the race! And I had a passion for my project.

What was my project this year? I intended it to be a semi-major revision of The Wolf's Torment. It's turning into a MAJOR revision with a lot of changes that I'm very excited about.

Crown Prince Mihai Sigmaringen has a lot to look forward to. Recently returned from England, he's engaged to Lady Theresa von Kracken. He hopes to unite the Romanian principalities into a nation, but when his best friend, Viktor Bacau, is bitten by a werewolf, Mihai's dreams and his relationship with Theresa threaten to shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.

Some of the major changes are that Sonia is now Mihai's half-sister instead of a maid and Mihai is more accepting of the witching power in him, and activitly learns to be a practicing witch. The plot is still the same, but how the characters get to the end has changed dramatically.


Here's a small excerpt for you to enjoy. Mihai has returned to castle at the same time Theresa and Beatrice have.


He turned around and to find Theresa and Beatrice bundled up in warm coats, hats, and scarves. Their cheeks were red from the chill. He smiled at them.

"Hello, ladies."
"Hello, Mihai."

Beatrice bowed.

"So what were you ladies up to this afternoon?"

Theresa grinned. "We sent the wedding announcements out and Beatrice and I ordered our dresses."

"Well done. What else is there to do?"

"We need flowers, musicians, caterers, a daguerreotyper…"

"and rings," he added.
"Yes, and rings."

Her sweet expression warmed his heart. The thought of putting his ring on her finger thrilled him.

"We'd love to have your thoughts on our plans," said Beatrice.

Mihai gestured toward the castle, walking next to Theresa. He wanted to get the women out of the cold. Tybeski walked behind him.

"Well, tomorrow, Mr. Tybeski and I have a busy day. Parliament passed my tax, so I must send out notices requesting bids, and Mr. Tybeski will be working on our behalf for the orphanage."

Theresa stepped in front of him, grabbing his hands. They were right in front of the castle's steps. Her face sparkled with excitement. "That's wonderful! Thank you, Mihai."

God, he wanted to be alone with her right now. He curbed the desire, pushing it away for now, knowing that the promise of later might be fulfilled.

"I'm glad you approve. After dinner I want you to come to my study."

She raised a curious eyebrow.
"I want to tell you about the railroad."

"You want to work on the railroad bid, you mean." Her face slightly frowned.

He looked directly at her. "If I wanted to work, I wouldn't ask you to come to my study."

"I'm sorry," she said, gently.

"Oh, let's go inside, I'm freezing and I want a very warm cup of tea," said Beatrice. She looked at Mihai. "And if you want Theresa to join you in the study, she needs a very warm cup of tea, too."

Mihai cast his eyes toward the door and gestured with his hand for the ladies to go ahead of him. Beatrice was a colorful one, but it was Theresa who heated his blood with her innocence, her sense of adventure, and her caring nature. It was Theresa who he wanted to be with tonight – alone.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome Guest Author - Shawna K. Williams

STEPH: Welcome to Romance Under the Moonlight. Happy Holidays! Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Steph, and thanks for hosting me. My name is Shawna Williams. I'm the author of three inspirational historical novels. I'm also a wife and mom, reader, editor, book reviewer and jewelry designer. My family lives on a ranch with lots of critters. When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family at our home, hiking, or exploring some new facet of our beautiful state.

STEPH: Tell us a little about Orphaned Hearts.

Sure! Orphaned Hearts is my third book. It's a wonderful little story set in Northwestern Arkansas, during 1932.

The main character, David, is a preacher who grew up in an orphanage. His family was killed during a fire and David was severely burned. However, since his scars are hidden beneath his clothing no one knows about it.

David believes that his scars make him unlovable, so when he encounters an orphaned boy, who lost him arm in the accident that killed his family, David is set on finding him a home. In a way, he feels that if he can find a home for Caleb there is also hope for himself.

Sadie is a spinster. After her fiancé died she devoted herself to caring for her father. After his passing she finds her loneliness exasperated by having no outlet for her care-giving nature. So when David asks her to take Caleb in she readily agrees, completely overlooking his handicap.

David begins to see hope for himself and Caleb in Sadie, but their entire future is threatened when a small deception committed by David is revealed.

STEPH: How did you find the inspiration for the story?

This story was inspired by my granddad. The story isn't based on his life. He wasn't a preacher, nor was he burned, but he was an orphan, brought up in an orphanage during the 1920s -30s. My grandmother's father ran the orphanage's dairy and that's how my grandparents met. Many of the small details in this story are directly from memories told to me by my grandmother.

As for the plot: One day I started to wonder about a family made of not just orphans, but also misfits finding a home with each other. Things evolved from there. The original draft was a 10,000 word short story, but the characters intrigued me. I realized there was much more to them so I wrote it into a 42,000 word novel

STEPH: Do you cast the characters? Who are the leads?

I don't initially cast my characters, but often as the story progresses I start to see someone. For some reason I see David as a younger, more handsome version of Ricky Gervais. I have no idea why. David isn't British, and he's not a comedian. I think it's the awkward factor. I very easily see Sadie as a plain version of Nicole Kidman. I have a clear picture of Caleb, but the boy I see isn't an actor. He's someone I know.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

A bit of both. I have to have a general direction, and goals in mind to move the story forward, but I often start a scene without a clue as to how I’m going to achieve those goals. That part just happens.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write the story?

I've known this story for a while. Originally this story was a 10,000 word short story. After I wrote it I felt like there was a lot more potential with the plot, and much more to the characters than could be conveyed in just 10,000 words. I added another five thousand, but even then I knew there was more. When DB accepted it, it was on the proposal that I would lengthen it into a novella of around 35,000 words. I'd actually gotten a late start at working on this expansion because I'd been very consumed with completing In All Things. But the story was simmering in the back of my mind, so when I started writing it flowed out of me very easily. I probably kept about 7,500 words from the original, and worked them into the new story, which I completed at 42,000 words in about 4 weeks time.

STEPH: What is your favorite Christmas story? Favorite TV Special?

Love the movie A Christmas Story! As far as TV specials go, well, I'm a sucker for the claymation Rudolph and Frosty Christmas specials. They remind me of being a kid.

STEPH: Can you share a Holiday family tradition with us?

Each of my kids has a little tree in their room, and for a week before Christmas I sneak a small gifts each night under the tree. It's tiny, inexpensive stuff. When they were little they thought the elves did it, and it added to the anticipation of the big day. My kids are teens now, and they still like for me to do this out of Nostalgia. I'm happy to oblige.

STEPH: Do you bake for Christmas? If so, what?

Oh yes! I bake all the deserts the day before: pecan pie, pumpkin, chocolate pie, blackberry cobbler, cheese cake, and just a white cake with white icing and sugar crystals that we call a snow cake.

Then on Christmas morning I cook a giant pot of buttery, maple syrup oatmeal. After presents we snack on cheese dip and taquitos, little smokies, deviled eggs, and other finger food. I fix the big meal at night, and we have baked cornish hens, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, asparagus casserole, sweet potato casserole, fruit salad, and homemade bread. I think that's all; seems like I'm leaving something out.

STEPH: What do you put on the top of your tree? An angel or a star?

A giant bow.

STEPH: Can you share an excerpt?

There was a child sleeping in her home. His home. Sadie tiptoed down the hallway and peered through the open door again. Caleb's small form seemed lost in the double bed with its towering oak headboard. He formed a lump hardly larger than a pillow.

She could hear his breathing, slow and steady. It sounded like he was finally asleep. At last check, she'd padded over to the bed expecting to find the child lost in a dreamland, but instead was greeted by two large dark orbs glistening in the shadows. Wide awake.

Brother Langley had warned her that Caleb had some apprehension about sleeping in a room by himself. David described the setup at the orphanage, with one large room for the boys, narrow, spring mattress beds lined in rows. It wasn't that Caleb preferred that setting, David had explained. He'd merely grown accustomed to it.

The poor little boy. To be so young and have endured so much. It wasn't right.

He'd shown little reaction when Brother Langley told him that he wouldn't be living with the Sheldons. Brother Langley delivered the news as best he could, trying to make it sound good.

"Mrs. Sheldon will be having a baby, and since she will have a child, she wants someone else, like Miss Miller, to experience that joy, too. And she wants you to have plenty of attention. She doesn't feel that it's fair to you that her health and a new baby would keep her from giving you that."

Sadie wondered if Caleb believed a word of it, or if he was just so used to being shuffled about -- at everyone else's mercy -- that he'd placed walls around his helpless, young heart to protect himself. The only response he'd given was, "Is my last name still Sheldon?" It broke her heart to hear Brother Langley say, "No." She could see that it broke Brother Langley's heart, too.

When he'd asked if Caleb wanted to stay with her, the boy turned and looked at her, with deep dark eyes void of emotion and nodded. Sadie anticipated him asking if his last name was now Miller, but he hadn't. She was thankful, for she wouldn't have known what to say. This was only temporary.

STEPH: Where can we find Orphaned Hearts at?

Orphaned Hearts is available at Amazon Kindle, B&N Nookbooks,, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, iBookstore for iPad, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks, and through the publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing.
STEPH: Where can we find you on the web?

You can find me here:
Follow me on twitter and facebook:!/pages/Shawna-K-Williams/236629884245

STEPH: Thanks for being here today, Shawna.

Shawna's offering a giveaway of a bracelet and sample pdfs (first three chapters) of all three of my books. Please, post a comment for Shawna if you pop in today. Her jewelry is awesome.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 3 - NaNoWriMo - Challenges

Week 3 NaNoWriMo has probably been the most challenging so far. Why? Because real life has a nasty habit of interfering!! Gosh, darn!

I did NaNoWriMo last year and this year. Last year I was a winner. This year I intend to be, too. I did all my prep work, cast my characters, did character bios, made maps, researched herbs, roots, werewolf and witch myths and I was ready to write on day one.

My NaNoWriMo project this year is kinda old and kinda new. I have a "deadline" to the publisher so I had to work on my rewrite/revision of The Wolf's Torment NOW. This project was previously with IUniverse, but I took it down, intent on changing some "big" things about the story. For one, I wanted to pair down the horror elements and focus more on the romantic elements. The biggest changes I've made: Sonia is no longer a maid - she's Mihai's half sister and Mihai reluctantly agrees to learn witchcraft, since his mother is a witch, and he is too. I just finished the first arc of the story - Viktor is bitten by Bane. I find the plot remains the same, but how I get there is much more different.

This week has been a challenge. The first two days of the week I was off and I usually do my writing at work on down time. I had to set aside time and work while my kids were home. It got tough when Joe wanted to jump all over my back. Yesterday, at work I couldn't do any work simply because I was on the the phones and I had no down time. I hope to work on the story today since I'm at a position that will allow it.

One of NaNoWriMo pleasures is meeting with my NaNoWriMo buddy, Jenifier Ranieri at the local Panera. We sit, chat a bit, drink coffee and write. It's fun to have a NaNoWriMo buddy. She's been able to get out to a couple of write-ins around the area where I haven't and it's nice to hear about her experiences.

My "unofficial" Word Count right now is 33K. My goal is to kick out another 3K today and tomorrow when I meet with Jenifier I need to get to typing.

Yes, Typing. Most of my writing is handwritten because at work, I can't have a computer and it's all handwritten. Just another challenge for me during NaNoWriMo.

I have a feeling Thanksgiving Week is going to pose another challenge for me.

Here's a RAW NaNoWriMo excerpt:
Bane watched form the rail of the ship as it approached Odessa. He had booked passage on a steam-powered boat as soon as Hecuba told him of his mark's destination – Odessa. And his mark had a name – Viktor. How delicious.

Viktor was several hours ahead of him, but Bane was resourceful and confident in his abilities to finally get what he wanted.
The winter wind wiped against his face. Hecuba was down below, resting. The potions she used to transform her body were getting more and more painful. Black magic had devoured her body. She had lived long – 200 years, but that was because she drank his blood, allowing his ability of regeneration and longevity to assist her body. It was now failing her. If she lived another two years, he would be surprised. And maybe it was time to give up the beast. He was nothing without her, and maybe he could finally consider death – especially if he could train Viktor to be his heir.

Bane ran a hand through his greasy hair. There was something about this Viktor that resonated deep in his bones. Something that he couldn't place – only that the man's natural scent, that of tiger lilies reminded him of home.

Odessa's port came into view. Bane enjoyed being a wolf, reveling in the supernatural power of his body. He was the leader of his pack and due to his age, he had skills younger wolves did not possess. Bane closed his eyes, recalling his younger days. He was born in a small Ukrainian tower – Chernivtsi, over 200 years ago, near the Romanian principality of Transylvania.

Bane looked to the sky, always aware of the phase of the moon. Because he was so old and a leader, he could transform at will. Younger wolves would only transform on the full moon when the moon's eerie light was at its full power, igniting the wolf's blood in its human host.

Werewolves needed two things come the full moon – to eat and have sex. When it came to satisfying the awful hunger, only human flesh and blood would do. There was something in human blood that held the hunger in check until the next full moon. Pig's blood would do if a wolf's appetite couldn't be properly attended to, but it lacked that special quality to be totally filling. A wolf would go insane if they drank pig's blood three moons in a row.

Then there was the insatiable desire to have sex. Only a witch could sate the wolf's heightened desires. Their energy was intuitive, feeling the wolf's emotions, calming him. A human woman could accommodate a wolf, but couldn't calm – the sex would be rough, dangerous with a human. Most wolves hunted for food at night, rested, and then, during the day, when they were human, coupled with the witches.
The full moon would occur in Odessa and while he hated to be away from his pack in Mulfaltar, he was not going to let the opportunity of biting Viktor pass him by again. He left Timon in charge. Timon was crafty yet cold, but the other two wolves could hold their own with Timon, and the witches would be protected by the wolves.

He smiled, recognizing the Potemkin Stairs. Soon, he would have a new wolf for his pack.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

19 Years

Us in PLDC when we went, Oct 1990

19 years has a lot of meaning for me. After all 19 years is a long time. I remember when I was 19, I was in the US Army overseas in Germany. I visited Paris for the first time on my 19 year birthday. 19 years ago on 14 NOV, I got married.

My husband's hair was blonder when I met him in Oct 1990, close to the color that my son, Joseph's, hair is now. And I've always had a weakness for blond-haired men. Brent and I met in Butzbach, Germany, in the middle of Germany. We were attending a leadership development school (PLDC) and we were in the same squad. There were 15 people to the squad and only two girls. And lucky me - I sat right up front. Grrr... That meant I had to turn around to look at him.

Brent thought I was looking at the guy next to him. Silly him. (Remember, he's blond) I was looking at him. I thought he was drop dead gorgeous.

As we got to talking, Brent and I discovered we were both stationed in Bad Hersfeld. He drove for the Colonel and went to the MP station were I worked every Wednesday to dispatch the vehicle. We missed each other by 30 feet for six months!

(See how fate is working it's way in here?)

Brent failed his situps in the PT test and had to do remedal PT. I may have been the last one around the track, (seriously!) but I passed my PT. Poor Brent. He sprained his ankle and refused to go to the medics because he didn't want to be kicked out of the class. I was impressed with his inner strength to stick it out. Soon we were sitting next to each other for all our meals. When we did our field problem, my buddy Ananasi Bloomberg kicked me out of my tent for personal hygene. Brent's tent buddy let me sleep in Brent's bag while he was on guard duty. *lol*

The day we were married, 14 NOV 1991

On our "free" weekend, we went back to Bad Hersfeld and went out on our first date to Pizza Hut in Giessen. We both graduated from PLDC and I made the honor graduates being in the top 10 of the class. We went to back to Bad Herself were the romance took off.

I remember playing raquetball with him and losing badly. I couldn't concentrate. I was too busy drooling over him. We went on a couple of volksmarches and so some dinner dates. He came to visit me on duty at the MP Station. I took him up to visit my old unit in Muenster.

Christmas Eve he asked me to marry him. How could I refuse? From JUN-SEP 1991 he was deployed to Kuwait while I stayed in Germany. Then he got orders to Ft. Drum. Instead of getting married on 14 FEB 1992, we pushed up the date and signed up for the Denmark wedding package. We took the train up to Nykobig, Denmark to the city of Falster.

I was excited to get married, but if you look at my pics on THAT day, I have a look like a deer in the headlights. LOL!! My husband still teases me about it.

Our family, last year's Christmas picture 2009

19 years later here we are - still married with two young boys. We've had our ups and downs but we're still here. It's cool. This year on our anniversary, we had the family over to make homemade peirogi from scratch and then we went to our favorite restaurant, a French one called Le Chene. It was nice to get away from the kids. Our first boy, Andrew, came to us when we were 10 years into the marriage so our kids are still young. Fun, but every so often, it's nice to have "adult" time.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Hi all. Most of you know I served in the Army from 1986-1997. I joined a Private E-1 and left a Staff Sergeant E-6. I was an MP and proud to be one, too. And while my time in the military was low key, I thought I'd share my thoughts and memories on my time in the military.

From Wikipedia:
Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. A federal holiday, it is observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

US President Woodrow Wilson declared the Holiday on 11 NOV 1919.

I joined the US Army on 8 JULY 1986, one month after I turned 18. My reasons for joining the military at such a tender age were varied, yet very real to me. Quite honesty, I had no prospects. I wanted to go to college, but I had no money. I wanted to get away from my mother, I wanted to see "the world" while I was young, not old. I did my Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. McClellan, AL, home of the MP Corp. Now, I believe the MP Corp is at Ft. Leavenworth in KS.

Me in Tazsur, Hungary receiving an Award.

I was sent to Germany in DEC 1986 and my first assignment was at the 583rd Ordnance company. It was certainly an eye-opening experience! I fell in love with Germany and Europe. I went on several volksmarches (which is a another blog post onto itself!) I went to Berlin in 1988 before the wall fell, and I went to Salzburg, Austria, Garmish, and Berchesgarden. I spent a year in Romulus, NY at the 295th MP Co and then I went to MPI school. In NOV 1989, I was sent back to Germany where I was stationed at Fulda and Bad Hersfeld in support of the 11th ACR. I saw the Berlin Wall Fall and I was there when Germany was united as a nation on 3 OCT 1990. Gulf War I broke out, but my unit stayed in Germany. My fiance deployed to Kuwait in June 1991. (after major combat was done) After a tour at Ft. Irwin I went back to Germany in 1995. I deployed to Hungary in the summer of 1997 in support of the peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia.

My time in the military was full of highs and lows, (like failing my PT tests and doing remedial PT, but even then I learned I had to work harder to get what I wanted) but the rich experiences have made me a better person. I got my college education, graduating with a BS from California Baptist University in 1995. I've done things and seen things most people that age usually don't. I know the hardship and loneliness many have when away from loved ones during the holidays. I know the sacrifice.

To those who have served in the military, thank you for your service. I'm proud to be a veteran.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

History of Halloween - Trick or Treat?

Halloween decorations in front of my house this year.

The origins of Halloween are more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain. (pronounced Sow-an) Samhain was a festival held to denote the end of the summer. For them, the "lighter half" of the year was ending and "darker half" was beginning. They believed that during Samhain the plane between this world and otherworld grew week, allowing spirits, both good and bad, to pas through. To ward off the bad spirits people would disguise themselves as bad spirits themselves so no harm would come to them. Over the years this tradition continued.

The name of Halloween comes from "All Hallow's Eve" which is the night before "All Hallowmas." Hallow in Old English means to sanctify. Nowadays we call the day after Halloween, "All Soul's Day" and it's a day to honor the souls in Heaven in many churches.

The practice of going door-to-door to trick or treat has it's roots in the practice of 'souling.' (which origins are in Britain and Ireland) Children would go door-to-door singing and saying prayers for the dead and they would receive a small cake for their efforts.

My son Joe, and last year's pumpkins

Before there were pumpkins, there were turnips. In more traditional Celtic festivals, large turnips were hallowed out and scary faces were carved into them. They were then placed into windows to ward off evil spirits. When the Irish came to America and discovered pumpkins, they began to use them since pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve.

Author Ruth Edna Kelley wrote a history of Halloween in 1919 and the custom of trick or treating wasn't even mentioned. The term trick or treat didn't appear until 1934 in a Halloween greeting card. Surprisingly, trick or treating in America didn't gain national recognition until the late 1940's after World War II.

Anyone like to share what they do for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Writing Tips - How to Hook the Reader for NaNoWriMo

Hi all, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is less than a week away and I'll be back. This year's project is "The Wolf's Torment." Here's a blurb:

Crown Prince Mihai Sigmaringen has a lot to look forward to. Recently returned from England, he's engaged to Lady Theresa von Kracken. He hopes to unite the Romanian principalities into a nation, but when his best friend, Viktor Bacau, is bitten by a werewolf, his dreams and his relationship with Theresa threaten to shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.

I'm very excited at the project and I'm doing my research and preliminary work now. What's the goal of NaNoWriMo? From the website: It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. That averages to approx 1650 words a day. Do-able write? *wink*

Last year I did NaNoWriMo for the first time. It was a challenge and with all my other "obstacles" work, home, mommy, wife, I slid in with 52K at the end of the month and had a great start to my novel "The Count's Lair" (which is coming out FEB 2011 with Desert Breeze Publishing)

If you want to check out my NaNoWriMo space, here's a link:

I'm going to tie this into my next topic which is my Tuesday writing tip: how to hook the reader. It's not as easy as you think.

The beginning of the story must hook the reader or it doesn't do what it's supposed to do. The first sentence, paragraph, chapter has to grab a reader's attention. Some obvious turn offs include: spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Not so obvious: starting with description, back story, or a flashback.

The opening should have the lead character into the problem. Start with action, show the lead in motion, doing something.

Here's an example: Alice skulked after Edmund. What's the reader's next thought? Why. That encourages the reader to read more to find out.

Keep in mind: The opening should have an inciting incident and a story-worthy problem which should hold attention.

Reference: Hooked, by Les Edgerton, Writer's Digest books, 2007. If you want to follow my NaNoWriMo project, I'll be putting up my rough chapters on Here's the link:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review Friday - Black Jaguar

Reviewer's note: I love Schartz's Chronicles of Kassouk series. Book 3 releases on 1 NOV, but I got a sneek peek of it. For those who love sci-fi/futuristic, romance and adventure, this series as it all!


Book Review for: Black Jaguar
Chronicles of Kassouk, Book 3
Written by: Vijaya Schartz
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 1-936000-55-5
Ebook Format
4.5 Stars

Reviewed by: S. Burkhart

Schartz pens an exhilarating story of adventure and the power of love with "Black Jaguar," book three in her futuristic series, "The Chronicles of Kassouk." Prince Kahuel of Yalta travels with Princess Esperenza of Kassouk to an unexplored continent on New Earth. What they find there will test their strength of will, resolve, and courage.

The novel is set in the future. Princes Kahuel and Basilk of Yalta are traveling with Princess Esperenza from Kassouk to an unexplored continent on New Earth. A typhoon destroys their vessel and takes Basilk's life. Most of the travelers are marooned on an unknown land. Kahuel is saddened over his brother's death, but steps up as the group's leader.

Kahuel sets up camp on the beach and send parties to explore the interior. Kahuel, with his loyal jaguar, Diablo, finds a native by the waterfall. Her name is Talina and she is a Princess of the Chosen, the native humans who have the power to read minds. Kahuel is attracted to Talina.

The Chosen are in contact with the Estrell, a race of people from outer space who want to use the Chosen to repopulate their dying race. Kahuel and Esperenza's presence upset the Estrell who order the Chosen to attack Kahuel's people. Talina goes against the order and is banned from the Chosen, by her brother, Vanaru. Talina seeks out Kahuel and the couple makes love. Soon, Talina is captured by the Chosen. Kahuel goes after her, but can the couple overcome the obstacles the Estrell and Chosen place in their way?

Schartz pens an exciting story, about discovery. The plot is tight and filled with surprises.

Schartz uses a good economy of words to paint vivid pictures of the setting. It's easy to see the setting in the reader's mind.

"Black Jaguar" has a great cast of characters that will quickly endear themselves to the reader. Kahuel is noble and honorable, doing all the right things to lead his people, yet his internal struggle is something that the reader can identify with. Talina is a little naïve, but she isn't afraid to take chances and to learn about others. Her love for Kahuel is honest and pure, yet tested when her brother reveals some awful truths about Kahuel to her.

"Black Jaguar" shines as it gives the reader a peek of happy after ever for the previous couples in the series from "White Tiger" and "Red Leopard." Schartz's love scenes are tasteful and sensual.

"Black Jaguar" does not disappoint!

Here's a link to the publisher's page:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Excerpt Monday - Shadows & Light

"Shadows & Light" is my science fiction short story in the Borealis II Anthology which will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing on 1 NOV. Here's a bit of an excerpt to tease you... Enjoy!

Elijah Kess hated the stench of sulfur -- and the space dock stunk of it. Other than that, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Two supply ships had just landed; one from Pith, and one marked with TPP symbols. Shadows refracted off his dark grey uniform. Beams of brilliant white light shined off his gold lieutenant rank square.

The hair on the back of his neck prickled. Something didn't feel right. The air smelled off -- the sulfur stench was thicker. The Borealis space station thrummed to the steady beat of business.

He glanced at the chronometer on his wrist. Thank The Greater Power it was time to go patrol the merchant area. He went to the personal access door and pressed his hand against the rectangular access panel.

"Lieutenant Elijah Kantor. Cleared," came a metallic male voice. The door slid open with mechanical grace. He stepped through. Working deep under cover for the Rebellion, Elijah Kess had become Elijah Kantor. Fellow TPP Enforcer, Dax Hydron, waited for him.

"Hey, Kantor, ready to switch?"
"Yeah. The bay is clear."
"The merchants are--"
"Get it off me!"

Elijah and Dax turned in the direction of the cry. A civilian dressed in a dark green overcoat ran past Korn, the latest bar to open on the main commerce level. He pushed several patrons to the ground as they exited. The civilian's hair was stringy and greasy, his eyes bloodshot, and white foam spewed from the corner of his mouth.

"Bloody Hera! Uudon overdose?" asked Dax.

"Let's hope he's not contagious," said Elijah. "Let's go."

Elijah took off at a sprint, Dax on his heels. The OD locked eyes with Elijah for a split second, then turned and ran. In that second, Elijah saw fear -- primal fear. What could cause that?

His pulse rifle was attached to a suicide strap, but Elijah couldn't fire it -- not a good idea in a crowd of civilians. He slung it over his shoulder so the gun rested on his back.

Civilians rushed to get out of the way. Elijah sidestepped the ones who had been shoved to the ground by the OD.

The OD slowed. Elijah pushed his legs to go faster, pumping his arms, keeping his eyes locked on his prey.

As the OD turned a corner, he shoved a woman right at Elijah. He took the extra second to push her away from him. "I'm sorry," he muttered.

She nodded her head. Elijah sprinted off. That bastard was giving him a good chase.

Dax was three paces behind Elijah. The OD had collapsed. His breathing was labored, his eyes were blood red and white foam dribbled over his chin. A person in a dark cloak ripped off the OD's sleeve. An obsidian patch, two inches in diameter, covered the OD's bicep.

"Stop!" cried Elijah.

Startled, the figure bolted up. Elijah drew in a breath and took off in a sprint. The figure began to run away from the OD, but Elijah was faster. He tackled the figure -- a woman, from the curves of her body. The patch went flying out of her hand.
Elijah reached for her wrists, pinning her against the floor. He could feel her body underneath his -- warm, perfectly shaped. The cloak fell to the side, partially revealing her face.

She had the warmest chocolate brown eyes he'd ever seen. Round and wide -- yet full of apprehension. She had thick raven-black hair, long, down to her mid-back. Her olive-toned complexion was flawless. For a second, he hungered to run his hands through the luscious mane of her hair.

"Who are you?" he asked.

She thrust her body toward his, taking his mouth with a kiss.

Stunned, Elijah allowed her lips to caress his. They were warm, sensual, tasting of honey.


Her voice in his head startled him.
"Let me go."


The Anthology will be avail on Kindle, Sony Ebook Reader, The Nook, All Romance Ebooks, and at the Desert Breeze site. Here's a link:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome Guest Author - Cindy K. Green

STEPH: Author Cindy K. Green is a fellow Book Spa Author. I've read some of her work including "A Funny Thing Happened on the way to your Wedding" and "The Heart Never Lies." Cindy, Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi Steph! Thanks for having me today. Here’s a little bit about me. I'm Cindy K. Green, author, teacher, maid, mother, wife and accountant. I have degrees in history and education and taught middle school up until about six years ago. Now I stay home and homeschool my two boys. I was born in California and now live in North Carolina out in the country about a ½ hour from Raleigh . I've been married for 15 years. I'm published in several genres: Inspirational, historical, western, contemporary, young adult and suspense. Those are also the genres I like to read. I spend my (non-existent free time) reading, watching period dramas and doing my best to keep this house one step away from becoming a disaster area.

STEPH: Cindy, you've written a variety of genres from inspirational, young adult, and western. Do you have a preference? Do you have thoughts on writing multiple genres?

CINDY: I love writing in several genres because I love reading in all those genres. My favorites are suspense and historical, but I can easily get inspired to write in so many others. What’s great about writing in so many genres is that the writing stays fresh. You follow the inspiration. If something isn’t working, you can switch to something else. On the other hand, it can take a little while to get into that frame of mind and word for different genres. For instance, if you’re writing a romantic suspense and then switch to a historical. It takes practice to get it right, but it’s a lot of fun too.

STEPH: Which book do you want to talk about today? Or do you want to share a blurb on a couple of books?

CINDY: I’d love to share something about my Young Adult story, Struck by Conscience, and a little bit about my Christmas book, All I Want for Christmas.

Struck by Conscience:
I, Charisma Mansfield, do solemnly swear that… I never asked to be popular. I never asked to be voted Prom Queen. I definitely never asked to have an invisible pixie perched on my shoulder whispering her opinions into my ear 24/7. But of all the things I never asked for, this is the worst one yet—when brooding but gorgeous Heath Ruvelas (my next door neighbor and the guy I used to be best friends with before jr. high) rescued me from drowning in the school pool. My already bizarre life would never be the same.

All I Want for Christmas:
Best Friends or True Love? Only Santa Knows.

Kathryn Graham hates Christmas. She hates the snow, the decorations, the whole nine yards. Nick Pringle on the other hand can’t get enough of the season. He may be her best friend and fellow writer at Redburn Weekly Magazine, but sometimes his exuberance gets on her very last nerve. Now they’ve been assigned to cover the orphan toy drive story. It’s just a puff piece not the serious journalism Kathryn hopes for, but maybe—as Nick says—there are no old stories just new angles.

Nick Pringle has been in love with Kathryn practically since the day they met. When he realizes that she’s lost her Christmas spirit, he figures he’s just the guy to help her find it again. He enacts a plan to send her anonymous gifts from Secret Santa, but will any of this really make a difference in her? Will she ever see him as anything more than her smart-aleck partner even after their passionate kisses? Then again maybe he’ll get what he wants for Christmas after all.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the book?

CINDY: For Struck by Conscience, I wanted to write a teen story about the popular girl. In so much of teen fiction, the popular girls are made out to be the villains. I decided to write a story about a popular girl who wishes she wasn’t so popular. She sees how pointless it all is as her senior year is coming to an end. On top of that she has a secret that has everything to do with the invisible fairy she carries around 24/7.

In All I Want for Christmas, the book has a Lois Lane/Clark Kent type of relationship. They’re great together. Lots of fun and everyone knows they should be together. Throw in a Secret Santa and a little bit of jealousy and you have my book in a nutshell. I had a great time writing this one. The first draft wrote in a record six days.

STEPH: What's next on the horizon for you? Any upcoming releases?

CINDY: In January, the sequel to my best-selling historical western, The Heart Never Lies, will release with Champagne Books. It’s titled, Listen to Your Heart and it is a continuation of the first story.

Blurb: Kit McCauley can hardly believe her eyes. Of all men, she believed Beau to be true blue and not one to step out with another woman behind her back. Sparks fly and secrets are revealed which just might be the undoing of her upcoming wedded happiness.

Beau Tucker thought he’d left his past East of the Mississippi . When a stranger from Chicago comes looking for him, his world spins out of control. He has to listen to his heart and decide where he belongs.

My YA story is the first of a three part series. Book two is entitled: Sold My Soul to a Frog.

STEPH: Do you have a certain process to develop your characters? Do you cast your characters? Do you use mini biographies?

CINDY: I do try to understand my characters a bit before I start writing them. I’ll do a basic physical/emotional description and give them some background and motivation in the book. I don’t go into too much detail. I let them reveal themselves in the writing. I don’t usually cast my characters with famous stars or anything.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

CINDY: I figure I’m somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. I write up a little plot and character descriptions before I start writing but it’s not overly detailed. I find that if I plot too much it kills my creativity.

STEPH: How long, generally, does it take you to write a story? Do you self edit or use a beta reader?

CINDY: It depends. I’ve written entire novels in four weeks and it’s taken me several months just to write a short story. If I’m inspired and have the freedom to write I can finish very quickly. On average, it takes me three months to write a novel and a couple weeks for something shorter. I am the quintessential editor. It must come from years as a teacher—that and being a history major in college. That was all writing, research and editing, editing, editing. I do use a beta reader too in my critique partner who is another author at White Rose Publishing.
STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share with us?

CINDY: When I have free time I love to read, take photographs, do some scrapbooking and even make fan videos for my favorite period dramas.

STEPH: You know I'm a Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" fan, right? Team Edward or Team Jacob?

CINDY: My sister is a huge Twilight fan, and she and I usually see eye to eye on just about everything especially in pop culture. I, however, haven’t really been impressed by Twilight. I find the writing in the books a little lackluster and Bella a bit boring. I’m harsh I know. As for Edward or Jacob. I think Rob Pattinson has done a terrific job playing Edward in the films and I am Team Edward all the way. In the books, there is something intriguing about Edward and that’s what keeps me reading. Hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes.

STEPH: Share any buy links or book trailer links you want. It's gush about Cindy day. hehe

CINDY: You can learn more about me and my books at my website and my blog, Facebook and Twitter. I also have a Teen Fiction blog and I just started a Homeschooling blog. Join my newsletter by sending an email to Buy my books at White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Champagne Books. Many of them are available on Amazon too. Visit my YouTube page for my book trailers. I hope to have a new one up for Struck by Conscience soon.

Christmas Contest! This starts today and goes through the festive season. There will be three winners. One October 30th. One November 30th and the last one December 21st. To enter: view the book trailer for All I Want for Christmas and email me at In the email, list at least one gift that Kathryn received from her Secret Santa. Enter each month for a chance to win. What will you win? A pdf copy of my best selling historical western from Champagne Books, The Heart Never Lies, as well as some Bath & Body Works goodies and a special chocolate treat—specifically the kind of chocolate my heroine in All I Want for Christmas craves each and every day. If you already own The Heart Never Lies, I’ll send you a copy of the sequel, Listen to Your Heart, when it releases in January.

Thanks for having me today, Steph!

STEPH: Thanks for Popping in!