Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review Friday - White Tiger

I just want to gush a little about Vijaya Schartz, her novel, White Tiger, and it's award winning cover! hehe. I always wanted to read this story, but it got put on the backburner with all my other stuff I had to read. I wanted to read it because I like sci-fi/speculative/futuristic type stories. Boy did Vijaya deliever. This story had me riveted. I was anxiously looking forward to reading it and hated it when I had to put it down.

Also, the cover won EPIC's award for best sci-fi/futuristic cover and the QUASAR award from EPIC for best overall cover. That told me the story inside was just as special.

Here's my review.


5 Stars

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.

The novel is set on the plant of Kassouk. The plant's natural climate is Arctic. Humans settled there after leaving a decimated Earth. They know the planet as New Earth.

The Godds have also come to Kassouk, but it's obvious they are an alien race. There are no female Godds so they mate with human females called Valshas. Their children are known as mutants. The Godds provide for the humans, but they also have enemies – the Reptoids. When the Reptoids shoot down the weather satellite that controls the weather, the climate on Kassouk becomes frigid. The Godds prepare to leave, but only after harvesting their female mutant children's eggs.

Tora, daughter of a great general, realizes there is change in the air when the satellite is shot down. The Reptoids and Zerkers pursue the humans of Kassouk, and so Tora takes her company White Tiger, and follows Field Marshall Killion's army into battle.

Along the way, she meets Dragomir, a man who ignites the more passionate, baser emotions in her. Dragomir confesses to be a mutant, but harbors secrets. He warns Tora of a human traitor and leaves after the couple share a forbidden night of passion.

Can Tora find the traitor to the human race and rekindle the love she shared with Dragomir.

Schartz's writing is crisp, original, and filled with creativity. The plot is smooth, action-packed, and moves fast.

"White Tiger" uses a good economy of words to explain the rich mythology and exotic locales of Kassouk without weighing down the reader.

The novel has a strong supporting cast that quickly endears itself to the reader. Driana is a loyal friend, Leah is a clever and beautiful mutant, Phaleg is the fierce Reptoid leader, and Khor and Kasil are the heartless Godds.

Dragomir is honest and loyal, brave in the face of adversity. His only weakness is his love for Tora. Tora is also loyal to her beliefs and exhibits a courage to be admired.

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Genre Writing - POV Narration

POV in a Romance Novel

Point of View Narration can be a bear to tame, but once that is accomplished, it will make a reader's connection that much deeper to the author's characters.

Point of View narration (POV) is simply, the vantage point the reader observes the novel from. The way a character experiences an event through their thoughts and feelings in the novel is known as perspective. The most successful POV narration (for a romance) include a first or third person narration.

First person narration includes the thoughts and feeling of the main character telling the story. In romance, it's usually used with the heroine. In a first person narrative, (an "I" pronoun is used) the reader knows the mind of the heroine. The con? The reader loses what the hero is thinking and feeling. They can hear what the hero says, but has to draw conclusions based on the heroine's impressions.

What makes for a successful first person narration? That depends on the personality of the heroine. Traits that will win over readers include being funny, sympathetic, a friendly soul and someone who isn't falsely modest. It helps to have an interesting character flaw. Think Bridget Jones.

In the third person, you might get multiple characters sharing their perspective. Usually it is just the heroine and hero, but every so often a third character might be used to impart information on the leads. **This is the most widely used narration in romances.**

POV switches occur with a line break so that the scene is in one POV only. The main advantage to the narration is that you get both the hero and heroine's thoughts and feelings. This allows the reader to get close to both lead characters.


This is known as a "dual" POV or "Lonesome Dove" after the novel that uses it. This narration includes both the hero and heroine's thoughts and feelings in the same scene. This can be disconcerting to many readers and most professional editors discourage it. The drawback is that the reader is rapidly shifting between points of views and it may feel like a boxing even. It's hard to concentrate on both the hero and heroine's perspectives at the same time.

Reference for this article: On Writing Romance, by Leigh Michaels, F&W Publications, 2007.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Excerpt Monday - The Hungarian

The Set up: Katherine and Matthias meet.

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 Isolde."

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."

Check out "The Hungarian's" Book Trailer at:

The Hungarian Released on 1 MAY 2010 with Desert Breeze Publishing. Here's a link to the site:


5 Stars, Author Tami Dee, "The Mists of Time Series"
Ms. Burkhart's writing is crisp, her imagery vivid. The story is compelling and the reader will find their selves not wanting it to end.

4 Stars, Nalisha Bradford, Reader
You are not lost or confused, and your
interest is held as you are touched by everyone in this story.

This ends with you wanting to continue on with their stories and
where it could lead you next, 'Book Two'.

5 Stars, Shawna K. Williams, Author of "No Other"
This book is a beautiful blend of history and mystique. And it's terribly romantic. Terribly!

5 Stars Margaret Young, Reader
By the time Katherine discovers Matthias's secret, Stephanie has us thoroughly invested in this endearing, page-turning tale of werewolves, witches, friends, and enemies, all striving and driving for one end -- happily-ever-after. This is a must-read for anyone who loves a good love-story with a twist. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

History Saturday - Octoberfest celebrates 200 years!

Can you believe it? Germany's world famous beer festival is 200 years old. But it wasn't always a beer festival. Trust me. *grin*

So what was the even behind Octoberfest? Simply, a wedding.

Crown Prince Ludwig (who later became King Ludwig I of Barvia) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. Weddings were a big deal back then and the crown prince's? A very big deal. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities which included a horse race. The festivities lasted five days. Anniversary celebratation were held annually after that.

An agricultural show was added in the second year. Interestingly, in 1818 a carousel and two swings were added. In 1816 carnival booths popped up with prizes of silver, porcelain, and jewelry. In 1819, the founding citizes of Munich assumed responsibity for the management of Octoberfest. It was then lengthened and pushed back to the send of Septemeber since Barvia often has good weather then. October is generally the last two weeks of September and the first week of October. This year, Octoberfest is set to start on 18 SEPTEMBER.

In 1850 a parade was added to honor the marriage of Ludwig and Therese.
The fest was canceled in 1854 due to a cholera outbreak. Over the course of the 200 years, Octoberfest has been canceled 24 times due to war, disease and other emergencies. It wasn't held in 1866, 1870, 1873, 1914-1918, and 1939-1945.

NOTE: I was very surprised to learn that no beer was served during the early years of the fest. In the 1870's mechanical rides expanded the festival. It was during this time that the city of Munich of began allowing beer on the fairgrounds and makeshift stands started to pop up. In 1892 beer was first served in glass mugs. In 1896 these stands were replaced by beer halls.

The horse race mentioned above were last held in 1960 and the agricultural show is held every 3 years.

In 1910, Octoberfest celebrated 100 years. 120,000 liters of beer was served. Now, 1.5 million gallons of beer is served.

In 1950, Octoberfest settled on a traditional style opening. A 12 gun salute is givine and mayor of Munich taps the first keg with a cry of "O'zapft is!" (It's tapped!) The mayor then gives the first beer to the minister president of Bavaria.

Nowadays there are mechanical rides and several beer tents.


Marzen is the traditional beer of Octoberfest. It is usually darker and stronger than traditional beers and lagers. It is generally brewed in March and ages through the summer so it is ready to drink in the late summer early fall. Only four ingredients are allowed in the beer: barley, hops, malt, and yeast.
Only 6 Munich breweries are permitted to serve beer at the fest:

Beer is served in 1 liter mugs and usually cost 8 euros.


Favorite foods of Octoberfest include:
grilled chickens on a spit, (Hendl) roasted pork, potato dumplings red cabbage, sausages, potato salad and soup.


The Barvarian branch of the German Red Cross operates a aid facitlity for those who drink too much beer with 100 volunteer medic and doctors.

I went to Octoberfest in 1992. I had a couple of mugs at the Lowenbrau beer tent and I can honestly say the beer goes to the head the quickly. There was so much to do, though. The tents were HUGE. and the rides were abundant. I had a great time. We took the train there and back so we didn't worry driving.

Octoberfest has inspired numberous fests around the world. Anyone want to share their local fests?
and Probst!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Guest Author Series - Welcome Carie Lawson

STEPH: I'd like to welcome fellow Desert Breeze Author, Carie Lawson the blog today. Carie, congratulations on your latest release, Beyond Summer. Can you tell us a little about it?

CARIE: Beyond Summer is the story of Zane McCord, a dedicated father who mistrusts anyone with a pretty face, and Carly Peterson, the beauty queen who becomes his son's nanny. Carly glides into Zane's life with her two daughters and changes Zane's mind about beauty, until her past catches up with her.

STEPH: During what time of the day do you write?

CARIE: Typically I set aside time in the afternoon, but sometimes I have to break down and work at night. My brain doesn't feel as quick by night though. I find that much more revising is needed with the work I do after dark.

STEPH: How much time do you spend marketing? Do you have a marketing plan?

CARIE: Marketing is absolutely the hardest part of writing. I try to allot a month of "writing time" strictly to marketing. But it really intimidates me, so I tend to avoid it. When my first book, Beyond Africa, released, I focused on getting my name out locally. With Beyond Summer, I wanted to get more reviews and blog tours. Christian fiction is a pretty small community when you get right down to it. So I'm trying to focus on that market this time. Only time will tell which one works better.

STEPH: What genres do you like to write and why?

CARIE:I write Christian romance--the Christian because I couldn't write anything apart from what I believe. The romance because it's fun. Who does like that fun, fluttery, falling in love feeling?

STEPH: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

CARIE: Absolutely. Writing is fun, but in order to be good at it--like anything else--it's necessary to spend time investing in the craft of writing. There are great books on writing, seminars, writer's groups. They are all wonderful avenues to help writers become more skilled.
STEPH: Do you have any marketing tips you can share?

CARIE: No, but if anyone reading this has any, I'd love to hear them:)

STEPH: Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry?

CARIE: Chocolate covered strawberries, silly.

STEPH: Print, Ebook, or both?

CARIE: Both. We've taken a great many trips to the library this summer, but I adore the convenience of my Kindle.

STEPH: What was the last movie you watched at a movie theatre?

CARIE: In a theatre...let's see, that would be Hannah Montana. However, our family hits the drive in several times a summer. It goes without saying that they are all kid's movies. Trying to think back, the last "grown up" movie I can recall seeing was Titanic.

STEPH: What's your favorite all time movie and why?

CARIE: You've Got Mail. It was charming. Every year when I shop for school supplies, I think of Tom Hank's line "I would buy you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils." I just loved it.

STEPH: Do you like to cook? Can you share a favorite dish with us?

CARIE: Cooking is the price of being a stay at home mom. And totally worth it. But no, I don't particularly love it. So I gravitate toward easy recipes. Here's one that's a hit with everyone.
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. spicy mustard
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
4 chicken breasts
Combine the butter and mustard in one bowl. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in the second. Dip chicken in the butter mixture then the bread crumb mixture. Pour the rest of the butter and bread crumbs over the chicken.
Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the bread crumbs are browned. You can add a bag of frozen broccoli to the pan if desired.

Thanks for being here today, Carie!
Good luck with sales!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday Scoop from the Publishing World

Isn't that a cute picture? A Kindle and a iPad making friends? *grin*

I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me on my recent blog tours. In July, I went on a blog for my novel, 'Destination: Berlin,' then in August I went on a blog tour for "The Giving Meadow." I enjoyed the tours very much, but I am a bit pooped. *grin* so I'm going to take a break and try to get back to my own blog schedule. I hope to get out a little bit on some of my other blogs I'm affliated with and I'll post those dates on the side bar as they come up.

Wednesday's here is always scoop from the publishing world and I usually take a look at Publisher's Weekly since they have the most recent and update info. This is a link to them:

The rumors earlier this month were spot on. Sony is indeed releasing a redesigned and upgraded suite of its three digital readers—the 5”screen Pocket Edition; 6” screen Touch Edition and 7”screen Daily Edition—offering full optical touch screen functionality, nonglare black & white e-ink display along with reduced size and weight. The new devices are not only stylish—they come in silver, black and pink aluminum skins—but also offer stepped up power, crisp page-turning and increased storage capacity. Only one model, the top of the line Daily Edition, offers 3G/wireless. The Pocket and Touch Editions will be available beginning today; the Daily Edition in November.

Daily Edition
Despite the frenzy to cut prices in the digital reader marketplace, Sony seems determined not to go down that road. The Pocket Edition, with USB cable file transfer, is $179; the Touch Edition, also with USB cable file transfer and expandable storage, is $229; and the Daily Edition will sell for $299. Despite lowering its prices earlier in the summer, Sony has effectively returned the devices to their former, higher price points. It will be interesting to see if these prices hold in a market full of devices selling for significantly less. By the holiday shopping season it’s likely that there will be full color backlit LCD reading devices selling for $99 and the price of the b&w Kobo Reader, formerly $150, has now been lowered to $99.

STEPH'S THOUGHTS: I like Sony's new look. The Daily Edition which is compatable to the Kindle 3G is $100.00 more than the Kindle. Only time will tell if not lowering the price will work. Interesting Note: Sony is one of the rare EBook readers you can find in stores. I've seen them in Toys R US, Best Buy, and other techie places.

RUMOR MILL: The Kindle is supposed to be going into a certain few stores soon, Target is one I believe but I don't know if they are in stores yet.

Personally speaking, the more ebook readers in brick and motar stores the better. It helps to get the work out.

Electronic books continue to show explosive growth in the Association of American Publishers Monthly Sales report. The AAP reports that June 2010 gross e-books sales were $29.9 million, an increase of 118.9% over the $13.7 million in sales reported for the same period in 2009. Gross e-book sales for the first six months of calendar year 2010 are $180 million, a 203.8% increase in sales over the $59.2 million sales reported for the same calendar year date in 2009.

STEPH's THOUGHTS: Ebooks are the wave of the future and continue to grow. These figures are encouraging!

Borders is unveiling a customer rewards program called Borders Rewards Plus through which customers, for a $20 annual fee, can get discounts on merchanside and free shipping on most online orders. The new program is in addition to a free members program. B&N charges customers a fee to belong to its members program.

To entice customers to participate in the new program, which will become available on September 1, Borders is offering Borders Rewards Plus members the opportunity to earn "Borders Bucks" more quickly through September 6. As Borders explained: typically, members earn $5 in Borders Bucks for every $150 they spend annually, but during this period, Borders will double the spend to bring the member closer to the $150 threshold faster."

In addition to receiving discounts and free shipping, Borders Loyalty Plus members will also receive 40% off the list price of hardcovers (while members of the free loyalty program receive 30%).

STEPH'S THOUGHTS: Borders has been struggling for years and I think a loyality program is good, but to pay $20? Are the incentives worth it? I think what will save Borders is for them to embrace Kobo and the sales offered through ebooks.

he Kindle 3 is the best e-reading device currently available; arguably, the iPad blows any single-purpose device out of the water, but that’s a topic for another article, and if you prefer and E-Ink screen to the iPad’s LCD, the Kindle 3 is far and away the best device you can get. It’s been thoughtfully redesigned with small but meaningful updates on the design and functionality of the Kindle 2, which, while they don’t amount to a big change in how the Kindle works or what it does, they do make the Kindle 3 easier and more fun to use.

The most noticeable improvement is the much sharper screen: it has a whiter tint than the screen on the Kindle 2, and the text is considerably crisper. It’s similar to the difference between the display on the iPhone 3Gs and the “Retina” display on the iPhone 4: even if you didn’t mind your old display, this new screen is so much better that it makes you think your old Kindle screen was comparatively grainy, so Amazon solved a problem you didn’t know you had.

Next, the Kindle 3 is a lot faster, than the Kindle 2. Page turns no longer have that little lag; they happen, if not almost instantly, in about the time it takes to turn an actual paper page. The new Kindle spends less time “thinking” in general, from opening and closing books, entering and moving around the Kindle store, to waking and sleeping. Again, the old Kindle wasn’t that slow, but this one is faster than any other e-reader out there.

Amazon also made a bunch of improvements to the body and physical mechanics of the device. First off, the Kindle is a good deal smaller--it’s somewhere between the length and width of a mass market and trade paperback, and about as thick as a pencil. It’s noticeably lighter, too. Best of all, the buttons are all much more satisfying to press. The page turn buttons--which are now smaller and mirrored on the left and right of the screen (no more big home button on the right side--it’s been moved down into the keyboard)--are nice and springy. You can actually blackberry-type on the keyboard, which is a huge improvement. Instead of the weird little joystick that’s on the Kindle 2, you’ve got an embedded directional control with a big “select” button in the middle which is perhaps a bit too sensitive. The new graphite body of the Kindle also has a satisfying, vaguely gripy back. The on/off slider is also now on the bottom of the device, which is confusing if you’re used to looking for it on the top, as on the Kindle 2.

The other cool thing Amazon’s come up with is a branded case with a built-in book light that slides out of the upper right corner. It’s powered by the Kindle’s rechargeable battery, so only turns on when the Kindle is in the case and switched on. The case costs a hefty $59, but it’s cool.

As far as the downsides, you are, of course, still locked into Amazon’s store, but that’s not going to change--Amazon, at its core, isn’t a hardware manufacturer, it’s a company that innovates retail. Neverminding it’s nice features, the Kindle is, finally, a portable gateway into Amazon’s store. The Kindle is also an E-Ink device, and all it does it display text; some users may be comforted by that limited functionality, others frustrated. Apple is likely to introduce a smaller iPad soon, which may push E-Ink, and dedicated readers, toward the background. We’ll see.

But this is the best E-Ink device you can get right now. The changes and updates, while very cool, might not, however, justify scrapping your Kindle 2 in exchange for a Kindle 3--they’re still pretty similar. Maybe wait for the Kindle 4, which is rumored to have a feature that will let you read books that, as of today, haven’t even been written.

STEPH'S THOUGHTS: My husband ordered the Kindle 3. Can't wait to see it as I LOVE my Kindle !

I welcome your thoughts, comments and opinions on the publishing world.