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.