Friday, December 30, 2011

Stephs Top 10 "Anything Goes" list for 2011

Well, it's that time of the year when people look back and reflect on the old before ringing in the new. Everyone has a list. Even David Letterman. So I thought I'd share my top 10 anything goes list for 2011 with you. Mind you, the "loose" thread that holds my list together is the theme of entertainment.

My list is broad in scope, but I hope you'll find it fun. – Oh and #11 and #12 are honorable mentions!

#12 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie
I just saw this movie the other day and I LOVED it. Now, I haven't read the book, so the movie has motivated me to read the book. David Fincher's opening is classic Fincher – the music right off the bat stirs the restless anxiety of the soul, setting the mood and tone of the movie. The casting was excellent. I'm anxious to explore Lisbeth's world.

#11 – After Midnight by Sarah Grimm
I absolutely adore how Sarah tells a story. "After Midnight" is a taunt contemporary romance that will have the reader aching for Isabeau to find comfort and love in Noah's arms.

#10 – Lady Gaga
Okay, I'm a Monster, I admit it. I love a good beat and Gaga has it. Yes, she's eclectic and down right strange at times, but she's no dummy and makes a ton more money than me. Hey, "Telephone" is the one song me and boys can all sing together. You go, GaGa.

#9 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Movie

This movie was a most adapt conclusion to a fabulous movie franchise. It captured the flavor of the book in several ways by staying honest to the characters and the emotions they go through. Daniel Radcliffe's "Harry Potter" embodied determination, inner strength, and courage, all positive traits that I hope resonate with my boys.

#8 – The Count's Lair by Stephanie Burkhart
In 2011, this is the one book I wrote that I hold close to my heart. It's a paranormal romance set in 1901 Budapest, Hungary. Anton's had a tough life, compounded by the fact he's a werewolf. He yearns to earn Amelia's love, but can she believe his secret? The Count's Lair was a Silver Award Winner in the Reader's Favorite 2011 Competition in the Romance Sci-Fi/Fantasy category. It was also nominated for the Book of the Week with Long and Short Reviews and earned 5 Hearts from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews.

#7 – Kindle Fire
I'm a Kindle fan, so I had to get the Fire when it came out and I'm not disappointed. I love the color screen and how the book covers are vividly displayed. I love playing Angry Birds on my Fire. I've downloaded a couple of kids' shows to keep my boys occupied in the car. I've got apps, books, and shows on my Fire. I really don't need anything else.

#6 – Priceless Deception by Jennifer Ann Coffeen
This is a regency romance. Madeline and Colin ooze with sexual tension as they try to find the French Blue Diamond. Coffeen's writing is sharp and witty, making this a delightful read.

#5 – Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen
This is a historical romance set in England at the end of the Napoleonic wars. The Smythes are spies, but don't discover the other is a spy until they're called to a meeting. As they compete for a job, they try to get one up on the other and that completive spirit rekindles the romance their marriage was lacking. I'm a fan of Galen's writing and she doesn't disappoint with this offering.

#4 – The Arrival of Lily Curtis by Rachel Brimble
This is a historical romance set in the 1890's England. Andrew feels cornered into getting married, as does noblewoman Lily. She manages to escape – to Andrew's home and finds a job as a maid. Can love blossom despite the expectations of the age? Brimble's writing flows like a smooth glass of wine, sweet, yet sinful. Andrew and Lily possess a combustible chemistry that will leave the reader turning the pages.

#3 – Derek Hough and Anna Trebunskaya dance the Paso Doble on Dancing with the Stars

I love this show. The dancers have inspired my own boys to get out and take lessons. Derek and Anna gave this Paso a life of its own that made for a heart pounding routine.

# Mark Ballas and Chelsea Kane dance the Viennese Waltz

Yes, I admit, the Viennese Waltz elements were "light" in this dance, but the routine had me and my boys riveted to the TV Screen. An inspiring performance that was creative and full of imagination. Breathtaking.

#1 – Game of Thrones

What I loved about this series was the characterization. There are so many different characters from Daenerys to Tyrion that you just feel for them. And who could forget the Lannisters – the clan you love to hate? The casting was "spot on" and the settings so vivid, they bring the pages of the book to life. Another thing I appreciated was how true to the book the TV show was. Peter Dinklage who plays "Tyrion" won an Emmy for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series." The Series was nominated for an Emmy for "Best Drama Series," and "Main Title Design."

What's on your top ten anything goes list for 2011?

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment about your 2011 favorites and I'll pick one winner out of the hat to receive a copy of my latest release, "The Faberge Secret."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Welcome Guest Author - Rosalie Lario

So What Do You Get a Demon for Christmas?’s the time of year when the first snowfalls begin to cover the ground (unless, like me, you live in sunny ole Florida), when houses are decorated to bursting with lights, and when people are in a festive, giving mood. So that got me to thinking, what on earth would you get a demon for Christmas?

First off, the demons in my DEMONS OF INFERNUM series aren’t evil creatures from Hell, but a race of beings who’ve come to Earth from another dimension. They don’t celebrate Christmas where they’re from, but they aren’t against the holiday. More like mystified by it. A holiday centered around a baby in a manger and a fat guy who breaks into other peoples’ houses to leave them gifts? Weird...but they can adapt.

So what do you get for a demon with little understanding of the meaning behind the holiday?

• A book detailing the history behind Christmas: If it doesn’t get read, it can always serve as a drink coaster. ☺

• Liquor: Ah yes, the reason for that aforementioned coaster! Demons have a faster metabolism than humans, so they can put down a lot more alcohol. And who doesn’t need a swig or 10 during the holidays?

• A dagger with a wicked blade: Because my demon boys always seem to get into trouble. Yeah, guns are easier and work from farther away, but the only surefire way to kill another demon or Otherworld species is by beheading. So yeah, make sure that blade is really sharp.

• A collection of T-shirts with smartass sayings: Okay, it’s not for every demon, but Taeg, one of the half demon brothers in my series, can’t get enough of them. Among some of his favorites? (1) Real Men Don’t Follow Directions; (2) Why Do Today What You Can Put off Until Tomorrow?; and (3) Awesome in Bed...I Can Sleep for Hours.

Here’s a little more about my latest release in the DEMONS OF INFERNUM series, Touch of the Angel (Book 3):


After months of no work, interdimensional bounty hunter Ronin Meyers jumps at the chance to locate an incubus who’s using succubi as murder weapons. Faced with deportation to hellish Infernum if he fails, Ronin will stop at nothing to take out the incubus and anyone else involved. Even the beautiful succubus who stole his heart—and nearly his life—during the most mind-blowing hour of his existence.

Night after night, Amara and her fellow succubi are forced to extract special abilities from the strongest Otherworlders for their psychotic master’s growing collection. When the gorgeous angel-demon hybrid she believed to be dead captures her, Amara is both stunned and elated.

But the happily ever after Amara’s dreamed about will have to wait. Before she and Ronin can find salvation, they must bring down the madman hellbent on destroying everything—and everyone—they love. And Ronin and Amara are at the top of his list…
Find out more at or at my website
So what about you; do you have a Christmas gift recommendation (for a demon or otherwise☺)?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

Who doesn't enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas? It's one of our favorite carols of the seasons. Have you ever wondered about its orgins? I thought I'd share some interesting tidbits with you.

The song was first published in England in 1780, but there's strong textual evidence that suggest it is much older and had 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 partidge was not successfuly introducted into England until 1770.

The song was brought to the US in 1910 by Emily Brown, who was a teacher in Milwaukee, VI. She heard the song in England and needed a song for her Christmas pagent.

Modern folklore implies the song was used as a "catechism song" for the Catholics in England between 1558-1829 when Catholicism was frowned upon.

The 1984 cost of the 12 days of Christmas? $12,623.10.

There are minor variants of the song:
** Calling Birds for colly birds
**Golden rings for Gold Rings.

Currently, English composer Frederic Austin arranged the standard version. The copyright was registered in 1909 and is still active by its owners.

On a more religious note, the 12 days of Christmas usually start on Christmas and last until the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January in most Christian religions. However, I've noticed in our "rush" to enjoy Christmas, a lot of groups - for example, my work, celebrate the 12 days before Christmas. Do you celebrate the 12 days before? What do you do?

Share your thoughts on the 12 Days of Christmas. GIVEAWAY. Leave a post with a comment about the 12 days or Your Family Christmas traditions and I'll pick a person to receive a decorative cloth christmas tree made by my friend, Lori Powell.

My latest release is "The Faberge Secret." It's a contemporary romantic suspense Christmas story, about 40K. BLURB: When Elise Goodwin buys a rare Faberge Egg, can Dimitri keep her safe from his rival, Gustav Kelch who will do anything to take the egg from her.

5 STARS, Celia Yeary, Author
You will thoroughly enjoy this fast-paced tale of danger, a mystery, and a satisfying conclusion.Elise and Dimitri make sparks fly!

Sue Perkins, Author
The Faberge Secret exceeded my expectations. Definitely worth reading more than once. What more can I say? It is such a good book.


Elise Goodwin finds herself faced with danger when she learns the Faberge egg she's bought belongs to a Russian mogul, Dimitri Romanov, but is Dimitri playing a game with Elise's heart to get his heirloom back?

Elise Goodwin runs a heritage museum in Brattleboro, Vermont. She travels to Boston to buy some items for her museum at Sotheby's auction. What she acquires is a delicious surprise that would excite any curator – a Faberge egg.

Enter Russian businessman Dimitri Romanov. He goes to the auction with the intent of buying the egg only to discover that Elise is in possession of it. His dilemma? He's attracted to the petite brunette with doe-like eyes and a trusting disposition.

Complicating matters is Dimitri's rival, Gustav Kelch, who wants the precious jeweled object for his own collection. Can Dimitri protect Elise from Kelch?


She bit her lower lip. If she didn't take a chance now, would her life be filled with what- ifs and regrets? Yes, John had hurt her, but she was still alive. Dare she believe in romance again?

Dimitri paused next to her room, beside the door.

"If you have the time..." she began, knowing it was now or never. "And if you don't have to go back to Russia right away, I'd be honored to have you share Christmas with my family."

"I'd be happy to." His gaze was as soft as a caress. He reached out and tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. Then slowly, he curved his hand around the nape of her neck and moved closer so there was no space between them.

Their lips skirted each other's, teasing, tempting... until Dimitri's mouth finally captured hers in a drugging kiss.

His lips were firm and persuasive. He smelled of soap and sandalwood. Something intense flared within her, and she fisted her hands around the lapels of his coat. Her body betrayed her desire. His erection pressed against her thigh.

All of a sudden, an all-crushing fear consumed her. He was hard for her. It was too soon, too fast. She broke the kiss and pushed him away.

"Elise--" Dimitri began.

Elise's heart jumped. She swung around and looked at the door.

It stood ajar.

"Lucy!" Elise forgot all about Dimitri's kiss and rushed inside with him right behind her.

Concern spiked within her the second she saw Lucy.

Her friend's hands and feet were tied to a chair, and a gag was in her mouth. The room had been trashed. Their suitcases had been turned over; their clothes and books tossed haphazardly about.

Fear knotted inside Elise. She rushed to the chair and took off Lucy's gag. Dimitri untied the knots at Lucy's feet, concern for her friend evident in his eyes. Elise was thrilled that Dimitri had helped her with no hesitation or reservations.

"What happened?" Elise asked. "Who did this?"

"They were looking for the egg," Lucy said. She glanced at Dimitri, but instead of her earlier resistance to him, gratefulness filled her gaze.

Dimitri froze and glanced up, his stare drilling into Elise. "Egg? A Faberge egg?"

Elise loosened one of the ropes around Lucy's hand and looked at Dimitri, perplexed. "What do you know about Faberge eggs?"

He muttered something in Russian, finished untying the knot around Lucy's other ankle, and stood, straightening his shoulders.
"That's what I lost. What I've been looking for -- my Faberge egg."





Monday, December 19, 2011

Welcome Guest Author - Ginger Simpson

I wish I had a photo of a favorite Christmas to place here, but my family was never big on fact, they weren't big on anything except just being a family. It saddens me that as I grow older, my childhood memories become dimmer and dimmer. When I try to share them with my younger sister, we have distinctly different recollections. She was nine when I married and moved away. Her childhood is vastly different than mine.

My favorite Christmas song has always been, "Ill be Home For Christmas." I cry whenever I hear it because it brings back memories of all the GOOD years I still cling to. Unfortunately, Christmas has changed. My grandparents and father are gone, people have their own children and new family rituals, and rifts in the family have caused discourse among some of us...and I must say I scratch my head over what happened, but it doesn't change the fact that going home to share a Christmas with everyone will never happen again. In a time when spirits should soar, I find myself strangely sad and my special Christmas song really prompts tears for all that is lost.

Gladly, I have Spencer in my life. He'll be the reason that I continue to create new and happy memories so hopefully when reaches adulthood he can look back and remember his "Nee Nee" as someone who holds a part of his heart forever, the way my grandmother is always with me. I'll always remember my father, and how he prompted the opening of the first gift on Christmas eve. "Just one," he always said, and we ended up in a flurry of wrapping paper and boxes until every gift was revealed. There wasn't a lot, but we never felt deprived. If I could have one wish, it would be to capture moments like those again just once. Since I can't, I'll just cherish what memories this song conjures up.

"I'll be Home Video:"

Oh, and a few years ago, my mother asked me to write a story for her as her Christmas gift. I was greatly touched, since I'd really never thought anyone in my family supported me as an author. After giving much thought to life, what she'd been through in losing my Dad, her parents, and how much she loved her grandsons, I came up with Virginia's Miracle. The short holiday story is offered through Eternal Press, and here's a snippet:

Virginia Collins fears her life is almost over. The one thing that still brings her joy is spending time with her young grandson, Davey. It's Christmas, and despite trying to view the holiday through a child's anxious eyes, Virginia still feels empty, alone and can't find her spirit. So many loved ones have passed, the yuletide is forever changed... until she receives a special Christmas Eve message.

You can find Ginger at:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Welcome Guest Author Sharon Donovan

SHARON: Thank you for having me on your blog today, Steph! It’s a pleasure to be here. I’d like to offer a prize. My story SNOW ANGEL is one of the stories in the Winter Anthology for Whimsical Publications. It’s a sweet Christmas inspirational starring Oliver. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Now about Charade of Hearts, a romantic suspense which stars Oliver as a detective.

STEPH: Sharon, it's great to have you here today. I don't know much about Charade of Hearts. What's it about?

SHARON: It’s a romantic suspense about piracy on the high sea. Here’s a blurb.
While scuba diving off the coast of Diamond Head with her diving partner on a quest to find a family heirloom, underwater photographer Dominique St. John witnesses his brutal murder and photographs it, ensnaring her in a deadly jewel ring. And when the investigating officer turns out to be her partner’s identical twin, a man she knew nothing about, her life becomes a Charade of Hearts.

Welcome to the world of greed, intrigue, deception and murder. And at its core is a blue diamond worth millions.

As honest as his twin was corrupt, Honolulu Homicide Detective Oliver Carvalho must convince Dominique that her diving partner and best friend was a crook. In a race against time, Oliver must rescue Dominique from a ruthless killer. But his biggest challenge proves to be mending a broken heart torn by betrayal that can only be redeemed by love.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

SHARON: A blue diamond worth millions! Last November, the Crimson Line of The Wild Rose Press challenged authors to write a story for the Jewel of the Night Series. The story could be set anywhere in the world and could be in any time frame. The parameters had to include Romance Suspense Danger and Intrigue. Most importantly, each story had to evolve around a blue diamond. I like to write about a subject worth exploring.

Ship wrecks, underwater photography, piracy and scuba diving were among these subjects. I challenged myself to string those elements into a romantic suspense packed with sexual tension starring Oliver!

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

SHARON: There was a deadline, leaving no time for procrastinating! By time I came up with the setting, storyline and created compelling characters to play the hero, heroine and villain, the clock was ticking. Add to that a ton of research and I was burning the midnight oil many a night! To answer your question, about three months, making the deadline by the skin of my teeth. Smile.

STEPH: How did you come with the title, "Charade of Hearts?"

SHARON: A woman’s heart strings are being pulled in totally opposite directions by two men that just happen to be twins. One has hurt her deeply and the other wants to mend her broken heart. Who’s fooling who in this Charade of Hearts?

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

SHARON: Yes, but I’m a research fanatic! I’m border-line compulsive when it comes to research. I’m very meticulous on detail and precision. Scuba diving has always fascinated me. From the time I was quite young, I watched documentaries about it on the Discovery channel. For Charade, I read countless magazine articles on diving, air tanks, wet suits, sights and sounds in the seabed, underwater photography, sharks and other sea predators. I was amazed that blood is green under water. Tiger sharks, I learned, are man eating sharks and stalk the Hawaiian waters. Contraire to popular belief, most sharks do not attack people, but all sharks have radar when it comes to smelling blood. It draws them in like bees to honey. Yes, JAWS fans, there is a deadly shark attack in Charade.

I really got caught up in researching shipwreck piracy. European trade began with East Africa in the fifteenth century when Portuguese explorers discovered the Cape of Good Hope. Thousands of ships made their way to Asia, crossing the Indian Ocean and wrecking off the coast of Mozambique, making it a pirate’s haunt for sunken treasures.

During the Ming Dynasty, Mozambique was part of the East Indies run. Fleets of ships crossed the coast of Africa, using Mozambique as a trade post. With poor navigation back then, countless ships carting precious cargo sunk to the bottom of the Indian Ocean, taking the precious jewels to their watery graves. The quality of the gems would have been worth a mint, and if discovered by scuba looters today, would be a million dollar market.

Based on this research, I created a deadly jewel ring that looted ship wrecks in the Mozambique Channel and Pacific Ocean.

STEPH: How important is the setting to the story? Have you ever been to Hawaii?

SHARON: Very important. The setting is the first thing I think of when writing a story. Once it’s set, everything else falls into place. I was fortunate enough to have visited Hawaii, bringing my story to life with first hand knowledge. The island is breathtakingly beautiful, a wild and majestic landscape brimming with miles of sugar-white sands, exotic tropics and water so blue it steals your breath. Diamond Head shrouds the entire island like a fortress, making it both beckoning and foreboding. The contrast against the water is mystical, ebony on true blue.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

SHARON: I collect ceramic masks. They shroud my computer and inspire me to write. Among my favorites are The Crying Mime with jeweled tears, The Veiled Lady and The Jolly Jester. I keep a feather pen with violet ink at the ready for signing contracts.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

SHARON: No, those things are a mystery to me. Since the loss of my vision, I read books in audio format.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

SHARON: Again, since the loss of my vision. Prior to that, painting was my passion. Needing to channel my creative muse, I began painting pictures with words.

STEPH: What's your favorite holiday? Why.

SHARON: Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year!

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream arose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.
Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. Echo of a Raven, a narrative non-fiction about her struggles with diabetic retinopathy, received a CTRR award for outstanding writing, and The Claddagh Ring is a 2009 CAPA nominee for best inspirational of the year. Mask of the Betrayer was voted book of the week at LASR and its video by Triad Productions was a second place winner at You Gotta Read. Other books by Sharon Donovan are Touched by an Angel, Lasting Love, Her Biggest Fan and Charade of Hearts. You can visit Sharon at

Charade of Hearts is a romantic suspense set in tropical Hawaii. It is one of the mysteries in the Jewel of the Night series for the crimson line of The Wild Rose Press. This book features Oliver, the sexy cyber butler on my blog as well as on the author roast.

Here’s a teaser:

While scuba diving off the coast of Diamond Head with her diving partner on a quest to find a family heirloom, underwater photographer Dominique St. John witnesses his brutal murder and photographs it, ensnaring her in a deadly jewel ring. And when the investigating officer turns out to be her partner’s identical twin, a man she knew nothing about, her life becomes a Charade of Hearts.

Welcome to the world of greed, intrigue, deception and murder. And at its core is a blue diamond worth millions.

As honest as his twin was corrupt, Honolulu Homicide Detective Oliver Carvalho must convince Dominique that her diving partner and best friend was a crook. In a race against time, Oliver must rescue Dominique from a ruthless killer. But his biggest challenge proves to be mending a broken heart torn by betrayal that can only be redeemed by love.

Steamy excerpt

With an abrupt bang, the line went dead. Dominique sat staring at the phone cord dangling in mid air, polarized. She felt the tremor from deep in her gut, rising high in her chest and through her throat. Her mouth was wide open but nothing came out. But when she heard a sharp wrap at the door, she erupted like a quaking volcano and let loose with a piercing wail that rattled the chandelier.

“Dominique, open up. It’s the police, Detective Oliver Carvalho. Let me in.”

Racing to the door, hands trembling as her fingers fumbled to undo the dead bolt, she flung the door open and thrust herself in the detective’s arms. Her voice came out in jumbled fragments. “He…the attacker…” she jabbed her forefinger over her shoulder toward the bedroom phone where the receiver dangled. “Said he’d call back…twenty four hours. Wants them, diamond and camera. Feed me to the sharks if I call the cops.” Her voice broke, tears streaming down her face and onto Oliver’s shirt collar. “He knows my name…saw me take pictures…he’s…”

“Easy,” Oliver’s muscular arms draped around her waist. Then he walked her backward to the bedroom, giving her a gentle shove onto the bed. Then he snatched up the receiver from the rug, clapped it to his ear. Lips puckered, he slammed it back into the cradle and stared at her.

His fiery gaze was scorching hot. A slow heat burned in her belly as his eyes rake her long, slender neck, stopping to linger on her exposed cleavage. Then lower still to her bare legs where the cherry red silk robe rode high on her upper thighs. Then that penetrating gaze seared into hers. His words came out, laced with enough heat to have her quaking at full throttle.
“Tell me what he said, word for word.”

Dominique licked her lips, reached for her cocktail. The ice cubes had melted and beads of moisture had seeped onto the teakwood night stand. She took a sip. “He told me he knew I had the diamond and he knew I took pictures. He said I had twenty-four hours to hand them over, that he’d be in touch. He said no cops…or…” her voice broke off, lips quivering. “He threatened to feed me to the sharks, said they were hungry. He said Roberto, he called him lover boy, just wet their appetite for dessert.”

The detective nodded, prodding her to go on. “What else?”

“Nothing, the line went dead. Then you knocked at the door. I thought it was him, the caller. I thought he came to…”

Detective Carvalho waved off what she was about to say. “I went to the Honolulu Clinic this morning because I had more questions. They informed me you’d been discharged and had been transported by taxi to this hotel.”

Dominique stared at the detective, mute. His eyes were identical to Roberto’s. It was disarming. How could she possibly accept the fact this man standing less than a foot away from her with desire burning in his eyes wasn’t Roberto? She couldn’t. Her mind refused to accept it. She had to send the signal to her brain because her heart sure wasn’t getting the message. But when his scorching gaze raked her body, evoking feelings in her Roberto never had, her breath caught in her throat. She wanted to reach for him, coil herself in his strong embrace, feel his heart beat with hers. And she wanted him to rip off her sexy lingerie and devour every inch of her body. She bit her lip, mortified. How could she be thinking about sex at a time like this? And why was Roberto’s twin brother stirring her blood to liquid heat with his burning gaze? Not once had Roberto evoked such feelings in her. She reached for her drink with such swiftness, she felt her silky lingerie slither past her shoulder and down her arm. And then

Charade of Hearts
Oliver’s story!


Charade of Hearts is every bit the adventure the wonderfully suitable cover suggests!
Dominique St. John and her partner, the utterly wonderful Roberto, set off to photograph
a shipwreck, but also to locate a very specific treasure. They are not far from the
stunningly beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. For long moments at the start, we are distracted with the “wild and exotic beauty…of…majestic mountains … pristine beaches…butterfly and reef fish…” and even the contrast
of light at the horizon. Then Roberto is murdered.

It’s a shocking event; and perhaps a spoiler to mention here, but that event happens
early and seems the true start of this dramatic, suspenseful tale. Roberto was targeted,
through the very eyes of the man who ordered it: the Dragon. We see and understand just that hint more than Dominique does, and so sense the growing danger she faces.

The beauty of the backdrop for this tale is so well described, fans of
Hawaii will be thrilled to read, and those who aren’t, will be fans by the time they finish.
Descriptions are truly almost poetically enchanting, often in sharpcontrast to the
actual activity in any scene.


Charade of Hearts

Oliver’s story!

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

My website

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Welcome Guest Author - LK Hunsaker

LORAINE: Hi Steph! It’s great to be on your blog today to talk about my military romance, Moondrops & Thistles! It’s especially nice to talk about this one with you, given your Army background. Thanks for having me. :-)

STEPH: Loraine, I always enjoy it when you pop in. Being a military wife is like being in the military and you were in the same time I was - and in Germany. Now, I don't know much about "Moondrops & Thistles." What's it about?

LORAINE: Daws, aka Sgt. Fred Dawson, U.S. Army, is a Desert Storm veteran who brings his men home safely just to lose his friend and CO in an accident he feels is partly his fault. When he’s sent home to NYC on leave to regroup, he runs into Deanna Meyers, a fiery independent spirit in search of a loyal, honest companion. Deanna is trying to work her way up in the world of advertising and meets roadblocks, some of which her actions have created. Although any relationship they have would have to be long distance, they decide to give it a try.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write? Was it a NaNoWriMo project?

LORAINE: Moondrops did start as a Nanowrimo project. I wrote the first 93,000-some words of it in November 2010. It was only meant to be a quick write novella, but it turns out the characters had too much to say. From start to finish, with filling in, rewriting, editing, rewriting a bit more, re-editing, getting others to read and proof it, and get it out, it turned into an eight month project. But that’s for the full 150,000 word version. Then I went back to condense and add some spice, so there was another couple of months work in that.

STEPH: What was the inspiration for the story?

LORAINE: Honestly, it was a reader request. Readers just loved Daws when they met him in my 2009 release, Off The Moon, and asked for more of his story. I have a habit of writing short stories as free reads to go along with my novels, and one of them featured Daws and Deanna when they first met. I used that as a jumping off point, pulled the idea I knew Daws was military while writing Off The Moon, and then decided he had to be a Desert Storm vet. Why? It was a story I needed to tell, since my husband is a Desert Storm vet and there are more implications to that than most people realize. So in a way, it also became my own story.

STEPH: My husband, Brent, deployed to Kuwait in June 1991. I didn't get deployed. Now I'm curious. How did you come up with the title, "Moondrops and Thistles?"

LORAINE: Since it’s related to Off The Moon, I wanted the title to reflect that (no pun intended). Also, the scene where they meet takes place in the rain after midnight, so I wanted to bring the rain image into it. Therefore, Moondrops. Thistles comes from an Abraham Lincoln quote: “Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” As even amateur gardeners know, thistles aren’t easy to get rid of. You pluck them and they grow back. It’s a wide metaphor embedded within the story.

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

LORAINE: I did a fair amount of research for it, yes. It is fiction but it follows a historical timeline as far as the events of Desert Storm. The spicier version doesn’t show as much of that, but I always have dates in mind, and sometimes stated, within my stories and so details need to be accurate. Also, Fort Drum is not one of the bases I’ve had a chance to see, so I relied on internet research plus help from a couple of friendly military strangers who were based there. For Deanna’s job, I had to research the advertising business as well as real places in NYC. I’ve been there but only briefly so I mixed my experience with research in hopes it turned out realistic to those who know.

STEPH: What are Daws strengths? Weaknesses?

LORAINE: Daws is very intelligent, capable, and discerning. He has a subtle sense of humor. He’s loyal to a fault. He’s brave. And he’s well built. On the other hand, he’s learned to be wary and distant. He has trouble dealing with the effects of his actions and accepting help to deal with it. And his temper can get the best of him.

STEPH: What does he find attractive about Deanna?

LORAINE: The fire he sees in her is the biggest draw. He craves it, the warmth, the spark, the life. He loves that she’s been knocked down often and just keeps going. He loves that she’s affectionate but not needy. And he can see how huge her heart is beneath her sometimes prickly exterior.

STEPH: Hollywood is calling. Cast Daws and Deanna.

LORAINE: Oh, this is a tough one. I’m familiar with so few actors, but let’s see...

Daws: he has to be tall and sturdy, strong face, calm personality, and he’s in his late twenties.. maybe David Boreanaz from Bones. I could see him playing Daws.

Deanna: after some research, I’d say Ali Landry, since Deanna is curvy and in shape and has a touch of attitude that shows all over her face. Or Kate Winslet would work.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

LORAINE: I have a Sony Reader. I don’t use it a lot since I prefer to hold a print book in my hands, but I love the convenience of taking a bunch of books with me when I travel and being able to download ebooks! There are many I bought that way I wouldn’t have bought in print, so it opens the door for more variety and for new authors to discover easily.

STEPH: Fun question: what's your favorite holiday treat?

I think it would be a toss up between chocolate covered pretzels and cheesecake. The cheesecake would probably win if it had chocolate chips. :-)

Thanks again, Steph! I’ll give away a copy of the shorter and spicier edition of Moondrops & Thistles to one of your readers who leaves a comment. Be sure to check out my blog, also, for a chance to win the full print version, plus a transforming mug with cover art, and a Support Our Troops bracelet.

Moondrops Facebook page:
Free reads at Smashwords:

Buy Links
(shorter and spicier edition)
(full edition, also at,, or at your local indie store from
(personally signed trade paperback with bookmark)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's the Skinny with Angry Birds?

I am hooked on "Angry Birds." I never thought it would happen, but this app based game appeals to my inner child.

It happened one night at 4 a.m. There I was plugged into 911, waiting for a call. Let's face it, people are sleeping at 4 in the morning and not calling 911. When my brain started getting numb from the lack of sleep and I ran out of the scandal rags (People, US, Star, The Enquirer) I pulled out my Kindle Fire and gave Angry Birds a try. Before I knew it, 2 hours zipped by and it was time to go home.

For those not familiar with the Birds, I've got the skinny. Finnish computer gamers, Rovio, developed the Birds. Players use a slingshot to shoot birds at pigs. The goal? Destroy the pigs. Why? A group of hungry green pigs have stolen the Bird's eggs. As you work your way up, you get red, blue, black, and white birds. You earn points by damaging structures, destroying pigs and you get bonus points for unused birds.

And if you fail to kill the pigs those ugly little buggers smile "nah-nah" at you. I can't help but love to hate the pigs.

Why pigs? Well, while the developers were working on the concept, the swine flu was going around. Seemed only fitting to make the bad guys "pigs."

Don't ask me about the mighty eagle. I haven't gotten that far yet. I'm at "Poached Eggs."

Angry Birds is a free app. You can download it to most phones, but I usually play the game on my Kindle Fire.

For those that are really hooked on the game, they offer plush toys of the birds – and the pigs! On Nov 11, 2011, the 1st Angry Birds retail store opened in Helsinki.

Not bad for an app, huh? We've come a long way since Monopoly.

Fess up: Do you play Angry Birds? Who is your favorite bird? If you can tell me about the mighty eagle, I'm giving away some chocolate and candles.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Welcome Guest Author - Vijaya Schartz

VIJAYA: Thanks, Steph, for inviting me to your blog. It's a great place to be. Love the atmosphere you created here with all your wonderful novels.

STEPH: It's always nice to have you visit and I enjoy your writing very much.

VIJAYA: One of these days, I will spend the holidays on a space station. Maybe not our current international space station, probably something more comfortable... although I would accept an invitation no matter what. And if I live long enough, or maybe in my next incarnation, I definitely want to do it, just for the thrill of experiencing what it feels like to see a planet from space, while floating in orbit.

The BOREALIS space station, however, may not be the best place for a vacation. It's old, decrepit, falling apart, not the ship-shape type of gathering hub described on TV's sci-fi series like Babylon Five. And there is a rebellion brewing in that quadrant, at the fringe of conquered space.

But like in the TV series, adventure lurks around its multiple decks. Shady characters hide in its bars, and houses of ill repute. Uudon addicts roam the lower decks with unseeing eyes. TPP uniforms patrol the upper corridors. And there is an intergalactic prison near the disintegrating radioactive core. What better place to lock up hard core criminals?

Several authors contributed novellas to the Borealis universe. They all have the same type of cover with the blue space station. Mine is titled BLACK DRAGON and came out this fall. Find it everywhere eBooks are sold. Links at the bottom of this post.

BLACK DRAGON is the name of my hero... his secret name for the rebellion. For the ladies, he is Captain Czerno Drake, or Lucky Drake, an incorrigible dandy and a notorious gambler.

A gambler is cheating in a den of the Borealis space station, and Lieutenant Zara Frankel intends to catch him in the act. She always gets her man, but this one could prove more than she can handle.

Captain Czerno Drake, code name Black Dragon, has come under cover to break his innocent uncle from the most secure penitentiary in the galaxy, on the Borealis space station. He will stop at nothing to succeed, even enrolling the help of the lovely straight arrow TPP enforcer. When Zara realizes that she’s been used by a shrewd but seductive rebel, her reaction surprises everyone, most of all herself.


When she breezed through the doors of the crowded and noisy casino, Zara glided straight to the private area behind the row of tall greenery and searched the high stakes tables for her suspected cheater. The owner said he wore a tan and yellow outfit and flaunted a white fluffy Terran cat. An ostentatious luxury.

She easily spotted the caramel overcoat and the sleeping white fluff on the pink gambling table. From the back, as she walked toward the table, she studied the square shoulders stretching the expensive velvet, strong shoulders for a pleasure-seeking dandy. The gleaming dark hair tied at the nape with a yellow silk scarf denoted a rare degree of refinement for a human male, and as she neared him, the musky scent of his cologne made her best perfume seem cheap in comparison.

Just before she reached him, he turned around, rose from his chair, and smiled down at her. He stood taller than she expected, muscular, with strong thighs bulging under the caramel velvet pants tucked into soft brown boots.

"Captain Czerno Drake, of the Providence. Lucky Drake to the ladies." The deep baritone voice rumbled low, like a sexy promise. The regular planes of his face, the square jaw, high forehead, dark brow, and the sparkle in his deep topaz eyes under thick eyelashes screamed of perfect genes and high-born society.

When he took her hand and kissed her fingers lightly, a frisson crossed her spine and her legs melted like chocolate in a solar flare. Despite the extraordinary refinement of his garb and manners, this man was alpha-male through and through, and as wild as they came. Eye candy in caramel velvet and yellow silk wrapping. All she could think about was unwrapping him, like a present at yuletide.

REVIEWS for Borealis: Black Dragon:

Long And Short Reviews - 4½ rating - Sensual - "I like the balance of humor and danger in this story, and the action kept me glued to the pages... I enjoyed watching as suspicion turned to admiration, and admiration became the first flickers of love between Czerno and Zara... Pick up a copy of Borealis: Black Dragon, by Vijaya Schartz, and enter a world of adventure, romance, and a spoiled cat named Marshmallow."

Single Titles Review - 4½ stars rating - "Vijaya Schartz is known for her strong female characters and Zara is no exception... gives the reader lots of action and a sweet love story."

Enter Vijaya's contest to win A DESPERADO FOR CHRISTMAS by clicking on CONTEST at the top right of her main page at:

Vijaya's books at

Vijaya's eBooks at ARe:

Vijaya's nooks at:
Thank you again for the opportunity to talk about BOREALIS. Hope to see you guys in space whenever we can make it.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Guns, Swords, Romance with a kick

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writing Tuesday - Tips on Creating Characters

You've got a great idea for a story and a plot that won't leave you alone. You dream about it at night. It haunts you during the day. Now all you need are some characters for your plot.

Before you can write, you need to flesh out your characters a little bit and get to know them.

Inspiration for your characters generally have four sources:
Real people you know
Real people you hear about
Pure imagination

There are strengths and weaknesses to each category so consider it all before you start to flesh out your characters

You, the author, were there emotionally, so you can draw on your own experiences and feelings. The drawback is you might be too close and lose your objectivity. The inside knowledge you bring is great, but be mindful to keep your objectivity.

Real People You Know
Say your best friend loves to tell jokes and that's a trait you want to bring to your character. You can blend traits with others (such as a fear of being alone) for depth to craft the character you want for your plot. The drawback is this might limit your imagination so that's something to be mindful for.

Real People you Hear about
Oh, those Kardashians! We know them from what we read about them, but we don't really know them. Look at Kim. I don't think we'll really know if the marriage was real for her or not. When you base a character on a real person you've heard about, it can work well because you're not held to any facts. You can get very creative with your character choices.

Pure imagination
You are only limited by your imagination. From the spark of an idea, you can build the character you need for your story. It takes creativity and time though to really flesh out this type of character, which might take time away from other aspects of your writing.

Characters in a story are either "changers" or "stayers." The main character is usually a changer – a character who grows or learns something due to the events of the story. A "stayer" is a character who can't/or doesn't change. (emotionally, they don't grow.)

Change for the main character is what a story/plot is all about. Readers love a good emotional arc and to be convincing, the author must make the reader believe the character can change.

As part of my "preliminary work," I like to put together character mini bios. This helps me to flesh out the basics: their names, backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes. I also like to "cast" them so as to get a feel for them visually. If I have time, I like to write a short story or a vignette to see how they'll react to certain events. This way when I'm ready to write my story, my characters are ready for the ride.

Feedback: Do you have any tips you can share?

Reference: "Characters, Emotions, and Viewpoint," by Nancy Kress, Writer's Digest Books, 2005, 231 pages.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Welcome Guest Author - Karen Michelle Nutt

Unbelievable Finds Presents:
Wish Me A Soul Mate
By Aubrey Jules

Forget online dating and endless chat rooms. Don’t waste a fortune on going to mediums with the purpose of finding your ideal mate. Mr. O’Grady has a box crafted by the faeries. It’s a mailbox to the otherworldly plane of existence. Once a year at the Seaside Bed and Breakfast Inn, Mr. O’Grady hosts a party in honor of the special day.

Wishes are a part of growing up. As a child, we wished upon a shooting star. On our birthdays, we’re encouraged to make a wish when we blow out the candles. When we see a fountain, we toss a coin into it with a whispered request. Why couldn’t there be Faeries willing to grant a person a chance to find their soul mate?

The wisher is encouraged to scribble down what he or she is looking for in a soul mate. The wisher then places the letter in the Celtic carved box and closes the lid. The wisher may feel a tingling through their fingertips or he or she may hear bells. It’s a little different for each wisher. When opening the lid again, if the letter is I gone, the Faeries are considering the request. But if the letter turns to dust—well, better luck next year.

Unfortunately, the Faeries are a fickle bunch. They only grant one lucky person the chance for a soul mate. Never fear. No one goes away empty handed. Mr. O’Grady’s scrumptious desserts and specialty teas are well worth the trip.
Until next month’s issue, take care,

Aubrey Jules

I hope you enjoyed Aubrey’s article penned for the Unbelievable Finds’ magazine. Find out more about Aubrey and her experience with the magic box in Mr. O’Grady’s Magic Box.

Aubrey learns the Faeries have a wicked sense of humor when Ian, the man who jilted her ten years prior, strolls back into her life.


Reaching the bottom step, her gaze shifted to the front door as an amazing specimen of masculinity walked in. She was positive it was Mr. O’Grady’s grandson. The gardening belt around his waist also was a dead giveaway he wasn’t a guest.

With the sun shining behind him, she could only admire his broad shoulders and chest, tapering nicely down to a tight waist and slim hips. My, my, his faded blue jeans fit him all too well. Now if he would step further into the foyer so she could see his face clearly. As if on command, he took a few steps forward only to be stopped by the couple with the brochures. Perfect. She could admire the man without him noticing her.

Dark hair trimmed at his ears and longer in the back, straight nose, strong jaw—exquisite perfection brushed with a touch of wildness and…something familiar.

Her eyes narrowed then widened when recognition hit her like a slap in the face. Her book and papers in her hand were forgotten as everything went numb. The book slipped from her grasp and smacked the ground like a gavel, startling everyone into silence.

His gaze riveted to hers while her papers swirled in the air liked she’d thrown confetti. She turned away. “Oh dear God, let him stay where he is,” she mumbled under her breath.

No such luck. He flew to her rescue, his strides long and sure. Flustered, she bent down to pick up the book at the same time he knelt down. Their foreheads smacked together in the process.

His deep familiar chuckle strummed down her spine like caressing fingers, making her heart dance in her chest. No, it can’t be him. This is Mr. O’Grady’s grandson. He’d be an O’Grady, too.

Not if his father married Mr. O’Grady’s daughter. Her nasty conscience mocked her, not letting her deny the truth.

Aubrey slowly lifted her gaze to meet his. Her heart stopped and started again with the intent of bursting from her chest. His features may have matured from a young man to now, but the eyes were the same dark blue and the way he smiled with a crooked curve of his lips couldn’t be duplicated by anyone but him. He wasn’t an apparition; he was truly here.

“Are you all right?” he asked, concern lacing his words as he stared at her.

She shook her head, feeling off centered. “What?”

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He handed her the book, his fingers brushing hers. Then he really looked at her. His crystal dark-blue gaze locked with hers, surprise registering before he realized his vision wasn’t playing tricks on him. “Aubrey?” His voice lowered to a husky timber.

At least the bastard had the decency to remember her name.


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and Karen will pick one winner to receive a Coupon for a free e-book copy of Mr. O'Grady's Magic Box.

About the Author: Karen Michelle Nutt resides in California with her husband, three fascinating children, and a houseful of demanding pets. Jack, her Chihuahua/Yorkshire terrier is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer.

Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all her stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.

Visit the author at:

Stop by her blog for Monday interviews, chats and contests at:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Modern Day Thanksgiving Customs - Thanksgiving Week #3

Joe getting his soccer medal

So what goes on in your house during thanksgiving? Do you bake a big feast? Or do you go out to eat?

Nowadays we're all known to stuff ourselves to discomfort and OD on triptofan. Men are known to sit down in front of the TV and watch football while the women clean the dishes. Then it's time for...


After Pie there's more football and its time to think about Black Friday Sales.

So...fess up. What's your favorite pie? What two American football teams always play on Thanksgiving? Who do you root for? What are your favorite turkey day foods? Do you have a speciality you make?

What are you thankful for this year? Me? My boys. Especially 5 year old Joe who struggles with sensory issues. I'm very thankful that I can mainstream in his classes despite his challenges.

I'm thankful for my 9 year old Andrew who loves to dance and is a great big brother to Joe.

I'm thankful to have celebrated 20 years of marriage to a great guy.

And I'm thankful for blueberry pie on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Reason for the Turkey - Thanksgiving Week #2


While several early settlements within the USA celebrated "Thanksgiving" prior to 1621, the most memorable one is the thanksgiving feast shared between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621.

The Pilgrims arrived in New England off the coast of Massachusetts in 1620. Despite their best efforts, the first year was tough. Many of their seeds didn't product viable crops except for the barley.

The Indians took the Pilgrims under their wing and offered them fellowship. They introduced them to native foods.

For the Pilgrims, all the wild fowl was "turkey." Chickens were "turkey." Duck was "turkey." Goose was "turkey." You get the idea. Did the Indians and Pilgrims eat "turkey" on this feast? No one really knows. Governor William Bradford, who organized the event sent the Pilgrims men out to hunt fowl. They bought fowl back. Whether it was a chicken, duck, geese, or turkey, we don't know.

The Indians brought venison (deer) to the feast. Since the Pilgrims and Indians lived close to the Atlantic Ocean, seafood was big on the menu – clams, lobster, and fish were offered. Side dishes included corn, carrots, onions, nuts and boiled pumpkin.

What about pie? Well, the Pilgrims ran out of flour and sugar. In fact, they ate with spoons, knives, and their hands. (They didn't have forks) Plums, grapes, and apples probably served for dessert.

After 1621, this thanksgiving feast was celebrated sporadically. 50 years later a proclamation was issued in 1676 to celebrate on 29 June. Seems the Indians weren't invited to the feast anymore.

In 1777, all 13 American Colonies celebrated thanksgiving, giving thanks for a victory against the British.

George Washington proclaimed 26 NOV 1789 to be a national day of thanksgiving. Thomas Jefferson thought his fellow founding father was silly. In fact, many Americans poo-poo'd the idea of a national holiday based on a bad harvest a couple of Pilgrims had.

Sarah Hale – you know her – she wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb" – she nagged president after president for 40 years before Abraham Lincoln finally broke down and proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of thanksgiving.

Franklin Roosevelt tried to make it the 3rd Thursday of November to extend the holiday Christmas shopping season and stimulate the economy, but so many Americans fussed, he kept it the 4th Thursday starting in 1942.


Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving. Their reasons for celebrating vary just a little, and in fact when Americans celebrate Columbus Day in October, Canadians are known to celebrate their Thanksgiving.

The 1st Canadian thanksgiving was 40 years before the American one. Explorer Martin Frobisher was looking for that elusive northern route to the orient, or at a minimum, the Pacific Ocean. He offered thanks not for a harvest, but for surviving the long journey from England through storms and ice.

Samuel de Champlain offered thanksgiving for successful harvests. Americans journeyed to Canada and resettled there during the American Revolution, incorporating their traditions into the Canadian celebration.

By the end of the 19th Century, Thanksgiving was celebrated on 6 NOV. However, after World War I, the observance of Armistice Day conflicted with Thanksgiving. The Canadian Parliament moved their observation of Thanksgiving to the 2nd Monday of October in 1957 to avoid the conflict.

I think the spirit of Thanksgiving is embodied in the fellowship and giving between the Pilgrims and Indians. Sometimes though, it may be a challenge in our modern lives to cut through the madness and get the message, especially in today's economic climate. I think it's important to share the message of the holidays. Many organizations organize food drives. My sons' elementary school and our church did, so I got my sons together, bought a few items off the requested list, and we donated them in the spirit of giving.

What do you do to show your thanks and help others?

My Christmas story, "Feast of Candles" is now available in the 2011 Christmas Collection form Victory Tales Press.

BLURB: Drake de Brettville is going to take the biggest risk of his life – all because of a bottle of wine. Can he convince the lonely Lily Marquand of Marquand Wineries that Christmas wishes do come true?

TITLE: Feast of Candles
GENRE: Contemporary Christmas


The smile in his eyes contained a sensuous flame which made her cheeks warm. "What scents make you believe it's Christmas?" he asked.

"Mistletoe. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Peppermint. Pine. Apples."

He quirked an eyebrow. "Apples? Really?"

"Growing up, we always had apple pie on Christmas Eve."

Drake walked forward, stopping before her. White string lights sparkled on the tree, sending soft shadows over his cheeks. The room was empty. The doormen were escorting guests to their cars.

"What makes me believe it's Christmas is light." His voice was low and purposefully seductive. His nearness made her senses spin.

"Light? I don't understand."

"In Denmark, the sun rises after eight in the morning and sets before four in the afternoon, so light is important in our Christmas traditions. Candlelight drives away the gloom and creates a warmth and coziness for many families during this cold and dark time of year. This last weekend my family gathered to light our first candle on the Advent wreath."

"Family is important to you?" She had to know.

"Very. And you?"

"My mother passed away when I was a little girl, and my father threw his heart and soul into the winery. I have an uncle, but he lives in New York. I grew up not knowing what a close family was like."

His compelling eyes riveted her to the spot as they hinted of sadness. He reached out and cupped her cheek, gently stroking her jaw with his thumb. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't be alone at Christmas."

"I'm used to the loneliness." She closed her eyes briefly, enjoying his touch far too much.

He drew close, pressing the length of his body against hers. Her pulse quickened even as a sense of caution flooded through her. She opened her eyes and placed her hand over his, while placing her other hand over his chest to stop him from drawing closer. Despite her attraction, she wasn't quite ready to allow a kiss.

He stared into her eyes, keeping his hand on her waist. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She hesitated. "Everything. You…" her voice trailed off. Silence grew between them. God, what had she been thinking? Was it possible to have a future with him?










GIVEAWAY: Post a review on Amazon between now and 1 DEC for the Anthology and you'll be entered to win a decorative stuffed cloth Christmas tree created by my friend, Lori Powell. Winners will be announced on my website on the blog post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Gobble on Turkey Day. Thanksgiving Week #1


Turkeys, interestingly enough, were native to North America. The Native American name for turkey? Peru. (Spaniards introduced turkeys to Europe in the 16th Century.)

Back during the American colonial days, founding father Ben Franklin believed the turkey should be the national bird. Back in his time, turkeys lived in flocks, loved to fly, were wild, brightly plumed and cunning. Go figure.

Today, domestic turkeys are bred to have large breasts for their white meat. Because of this, the "toms" (the boy turkeys) are not able to fertilize the hens in the natural way. Most eggs are fertilized using artificial insemination.

Only the "toms" gobble gobble. The hens make clucking sounds.


So what's the skinny with white and dark meat? It has nothing to do with blood. The legs and thighs are darker because they are a specific muscle type, different from the breast.


Turkey eggs are twice the size of chicken eggs and fertilized eggs take 28 days to hatch.


Interestingly enough, "The Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens is given credit for making turkey the dinner of choice for Christmas.


The first president to pardon the turkey was Harry Truman in 1947. The National Turkey Federation presented him the bird, but Truman had pity on him. Truman's pardon continued on after him. Every year, newborn turkeys in April are picked as potential pardonees. These turkey live the good life in an air-conditioned barn, the best saw dust to sleep on, and the best food in their bellies.

In August, the "toms" pork out at 25 pounds. Only the top 6 toms – the largest and the most handsome, get picked for crowd control training. They get exposed to large crowds, clapping, noise, kids, and guys who look like the president. They're trained not to bite the kids, attack the president, or exhibit any unsatisfactory behavior.

Out of the 6, 2 get picked to go to the White House – the president and vice-president. (just in case something happens on the trip over)

After the big pardon, the birds to live in a luxury retirement farm called Frying Pan Park, but few make it to the next turkey day. Since they are bred to have large breasts, they can't support their weight and die within the year.

Thanksgiving is meant to offer thanks for our blessings and most of us celebrate in a fashion similar to the Pilgrim/Indian feast in 1621. I'd love to hear what some of your favorites foods are for Thanksgiving. Mine? Turkey wings, corn, clam chowder and blueberry pie.


Stephanie's Christmas release, "Christmas in Bayeux" is avail as a 99 cent read with Victory Tales Press.

GENRE: Contemporary romance
HEAT LEVEL: Stimulating

BLURB: Aiden seeks out his childhood friend, Noel, in Bayeux, France. Can she help heal his lonely heart and convince him Christmas wishes do come true?


Her cheeks reddened, but she only gestured toward the hall. "It's this way."

They entered the main room and he saw that the tapestry hung on the wall opposite of them. It filled the space entirely. Aiden stood stock-still, admiring its craftsmanship.

"We believe it commemorates the Norman conquest of England in 1066. We all call it a tapestry, but it's really an embroidery." She paused, then pointed. "Of course, the hero is William the Conqueror. His forces defeated those led by the English king, Harold Godwinson."

Aiden walked the length to the tapestry, marveling at the story and how the work had been well preserved for close to 1,000 years.

"Edward the Confessor had no heir so he sent Harold to tell William he would rule England once Edward died. Harold, however, usurped the throne."

Aiden pointed to a star with a tail. "Is that a star?"

She grinned. "Modern interpretation believes it to be Haley's comet. It was a bad omen for Harold."

"What happened next?"

Noel giggled. "William conquered him."

"Silly me. I should have known that." He grabbed her waist and pulled her against him. Their eyes locked, hers smoldering with desire. Damn. He wanted to kiss her. Right now. Screw his willpower. Aiden grabbed her hand and led her to the nearest hallway. Empty, thank God.










GIVEAWAY: If you post a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords between now and 1 DEC, then your name will go in a hat to win one of two decorative cloth Christmas trees made by my crafty friend, Lori Powell, along with some Yankee Candles and Chocolate. Be sure to return here and post in the comments that you posted the review along with a contact email.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Welcome Guest Author Ruth A. Casie

STEPH: I don't know much about Knight of Runes. What can you tell us about?

RUTH: The story is set in England in 1605. When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he’s intrigued.

Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she’s travelled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return home. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what’s killing Arik’s land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.

As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. To defeat him, Arik and Rebeka must combine their skills. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.

STEPH: How long did it take to write?

RUTH: I started writing the story April, 2009 and finished it four months later in August.

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research?

RUTH: It seems every step of the way I had something to research. My heroine, Rebeka Tyler, is a renowned renaissance scholar and a martial arts expert. I researched graduate programs at Cornell, Columbia, and in the UK as well as martial arts fighting techniques to write the fight scenes. I took classes on how to write fight scenes.

I researched druid practices, runes, the renaissance, and the societal attitudes of the time period. Lord Arik is more than the 'lord of the manor.' I needed to do some research on farming and harvesting as well as military training.

STEPH: Tell us how you build your characters? Do you write character bios? Cast the characters?

RUTH: I hadn't realized it at first but the characters have been brewing in my mind for some time. As I started to write they came to life on the page. I try to put myself in their place and see what they see in order to describe the setting and see/feel their movements. It was really funny when I realized that Arik raise his eyebrow at me and said "Really, you think I would say that?" I rewrote the scene.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

RUTH: I'm a plotser, a cross between the two. I do outline the overall story but not in any detail. That said, there are times when I veer off the path and have to adjust the outline. Sometimes it seems that the story writes itself.

STEPH: What attracted you to writing a story with time traveling elements in it?

RUTH: The challenges of different attitudes across the centuries intrigued me. What skills would my heroine need? How would she interact with people? Would she be accepted? How would she deal with leadership? What skills would she need to acquire. Arik has his challenges in dealing with a woman who has very different attitudes about her place in his society. How would he deal with her? Working on these issues and bringing them out in a realistic way was both challenging and gratifying.

STEPH: What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading the story?

RUTH: I want my readers feel that they were entertained and for a few hours believe they are there with Rebeka and Arik. It would be great if they wanted to read my next book. I think all romance readers want to escape to a world where HEA is possible. I think my story has real life lessons - with trust and love you can find romance and sometimes that means mutual compromise and acceptance.

STEPH: Any words of advice or encouragement for aspiring authors?

RUTH: Write from your heart. Don't be discouraged by rejections (personally I call them passes). Join a writing group. The support of other writers is essential. Study your craft. Keep reading and writing. The best way to improve is by doing it.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

RUTH: I have a Sony eReader. I also have the Kindle and Nook app on my cell phone and find that I use that a great deal. Although if Kindle ever gets the autograph app working I may just buy one.

STEPH: Tell us a little about the state/country you live in.

RUTH: I live in Teaneck, New Jersey about 20 minutes away from midtown New York. Teaneck is in north Jersey not far from the many malls in Paramus. Teaneck is known for its great parks and trees. It has a suburban atmosphere with the bustle of NYC not far away. New Jersey is famous for our wonderful shore area as well as Atlantic City. New Jersey, is the home of the NY Jets and Giants (go figure!), Snooki, and the Sopranos while Hoboken lays claim to Frank Sinatra.
#11. Where can we find you on the web? Twitter? Facebook?
You can find me on the web at, on twitter at www., and on facebook at

GIVEAWAY: Win a free copy of Ruth’s debut novel, Knight of Runes (epub or pdf format) by leaving a comment with your email address. One person will be randomly selected on November 20.

Knight of Runes
It’s the 21st century and time travel is still a Wellsian fantasy but not for Rebeka Tyler. While on an impromptu tour of Avebury, she takes a misstep at the standing stones, and finds herself in the right place but tossed back into the 17th century. When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style he is intrigued.

Rebeka is desparate to return to her time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to help find out what’s killing Arik’s land to get access to the library. But as she decodes the ancient runes that are the key to solving his mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.

As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. To defeat him, Arik and Rebeka must combine their skills. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.

Ruth’s Bio
Ruth A. Casie was born in Brooklyn, New York. For twenty-five years she’s been writing for corporate America. Encouraged by her family and friends this ballroom dancing, Sudoku playing, aspiring gourmet cook has given way to her inner muse. She’s let her creative juices flow and started writing a series of historical time travel romance stories. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A History of Veterans Day

World War I Veteran

World War I, known as the Great War, ended with an armistice declared on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in November 1918. An armistice is a temporary stop to war hostiles. At the time, no one believed there could be a war greater than World War I. The final peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, proclaimed "Armistice Day," on November 11, 1919.

President Wilson's intent was to reflect on the sacrifice and heroism of those who died in service to the country during the Great War, and to show gratitude for having won the war. Armistice Day was marked with a suspension of business for two minutes starting at 11 a.m. Parades and public meetings were also encouraged. Throughout the years, two minutes of silence is observed by the President during Veterans Day activities.

In 1920, France and Great Britain honored their war dead on the second anniversary of the armistice by dedicating their countries' Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1921, Congress followed suit and approved the American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The dedication ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11. Congress also declared November 11, 1921 a legal, federal holiday to honor those who participated in the war.

Throughout the 1920's and 1930's, most states celebrated November 11, Armistice Day, as a legal state holiday. Back then, the states had the final say as to what days they were going to celebrate as holidays, and most followed the federal holiday schedule. During this time, on the national level, the president issued an annual proclamation. It wasn't until 1938 that Congress officially made November 11 a federal legal holiday.

With veterans from World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 that changed November 11 from "Armistice Day," to "Veterans Day," honoring all those who had served.

Me in Army Dress Blues, 1997

During the 1970's, the Veterans Day holiday was held on the fourth Monday of October to accommodate a federal three-day holiday law, but a lot of states felt that was too close to Columbus Day, and so they held their observances on the traditional date of November 11. In 1978, legislation was passed that officially made November 11 the day of observance for Veterans Day.

The importance of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve their country. As an interesting note, the holiday is commonly misspelled as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day. It is observed on the federal, state, and local levels of government, however, most businesses remain open.

I'm a veteran and I'm honored to have served my country. I served from 1986-1997 and spent 7 years overseas in Germany. I was an US Army MP (military police). I went to two leadership schools and obtained the rank of Staff Sergeant before getting out of the army.

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