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.

You can also find this article on my Associated Content Account at:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Welcome Guest Author Jennifer Wilck

STEPH: I don't know much about Skin Deep What's it about?

JENNIFER: Skin Deep is a contemporary romance and addresses the theme of believing in yourself and rising above your circumstances, taking control and making something better out of your life. Both the hero and the heroine come from past abusive relationships and both of them find the strength to move past them and discover the love they were meant to have. Of course, it takes the hero a little longer to get to that point (men!) but they’re two incredibly strong characters with great chemistry. Here’s a blurb:

The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.

John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.

Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

JENNIFER: Writing the story took about 8 months and editing took another 6 months. This was the first story for which I used a critique partner, which really took me out of my comfort zone. Usually, I don’t let anyone ever see what I write, but my critique partner is amazing and she really helped strengthen the book.

STEPH: Did you do a lot of research for it?

JENNIFER: The heroine, Valerie, is a makeup artist, so I had to research that profession. I found a makeup artist loop on the Internet and interviewed one of the women on it. It was really interesting! I never knew there was so much work behind making someone look like they do on TV!

STEPH: What was the inspiration for the novel?

JENNIFER: Most of my stories start with characters and this one was no different. I saw an actor on TV whose face and eyes were so expressive that I couldn’t stop looking at him. He wasn’t particularly gorgeous—I think “arresting” is probably more appropriate. So while I was watching him, my mind started doing its thing and the character of John was created. Then I needed to find a perfect heroine for him, and along came Valerie. The rest just sort of happened when I sat down at my keyboard.

STEPH: Hollywood is calling! Cast the main characters.

JENNIFER: I have a tough time with questions like this because the characters form their own personalities and descriptions in my head and it’s hard to find a real person for them to be, even if this one happened to start with an actual person on TV. So, let’s see. For John, I think I’d choose Jeff Kober—he’s from China Beach. And for Valerie, maybe Ellen Pompeo, even though she doesn’t look anything like the Valerie in my head. But I think she’d do a good job with the character.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

JENNIFER: Hah! I’m a mom, so anywhere my kids aren’t…I tend to move around a lot. Usually I start in the dining room, which has big French doors overlooking our deck and lots of trees outside. I like the light and the open feeling. Sometimes I’ll move into our family room with the big comfy sofas (recliners are awesome!) or our office if I want to shut the door and write in peace. With my laptop, I can pretty much write anywhere.

STEPH: How long have you been writing? Are you a plotter or a panster?

JENNIFER: I’ve been writing for a really long time. I’ve always written down story ideas or parts of stories. My last book, A Heart of Little Faith, which was my first published book, was probably the first time I sat down and wrote a story from start to finish without changing my mind part way through, though. And I’m a total pantser. I can’t stick to an outline to save my life. I tried that with my current WIP and it’s awful! Never again! But I really admire those who can do it.

STEPH: What romantic genre do you like to write? Read?

JENNIFER: While I’d love to write historical, I don’t think I could do it justice, so currently, my favorite romantic genre to write is contemporary. I like to read all kinds though. At the moment, I’m reading Claire Delacroix’s The Beauty Bride.

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

JENNIFER: I have the iPad. My parents got it for me to congratulate me on my first publishing contract (thanks, Mom & Dad!). It’s pretty cool! I like the whole page-swishing thing!

STEPH: Fun question: It's football season. Who's your favorite team?

Easy! The New York Giants! It’s hereditary. My dad is a huge fan and growing up, he was fanatical about them. If I walked into the room and they fumbled, I was banished until after the game ended. So, I really never had a choice. My husband is from outside of Philadelphia and is an Eagles fan, so football season is an interesting time in our house!

STEPH: Please share an excerpt, buy links & links to where we can find you on the web.

Excerpt, Skin Deep

The square, plastic bottle crashed to the floor, the white cap skittered under a cabinet and bisque-colored foundation splattered across the tile floor, where it made a Rorschach pattern within the large white squares. With a groan and a roll of her eyes, Valerie searched under the makeup table, found the errant cap, replaced it on the bottle, and returned the foundation to the tray. She grabbed a damp rag and wiped up the mess.

She looked at the shooting schedule and smiled as she ran her fingers down the smooth laminated page. Only three weeks into this job, she loved working as assistant make-up artist on “Oddballs,” a Top-10 weekly TV sitcom. She double-checked her kit for the supplies she’d need that day. So engrossed in her work, she didn’t notice her boss’ purple-spiked head in the door of the make-up trailer, or the ever-present smell of hair gel that hovered around her, until Michelle called her name.

“Hey Valerie, a bunch of us are going out after work. Wanna come?”

Flashes from her past competed with images from the present at the sudden voice and Valerie stiffened. She shook her head to clear the jumble of images.

“Where are you going?” She wiped the remains of the foundation on the short cotton apron over her turquoise shirt and faded denim jeans. Eyes closed, she inhaled. The thick weave of rough fabric scraped her fingers and anchored her in the present, despite her body’s momentary lapse.

“Tico’s for some drinks. There’s about eight of us going. It’ll be fun and you can meet some of the crew.”

Valerie’s hands shook and knocked into the plastic bottles on the tray. They clinked together as the tubes slid into the scissors and destroyed their recent orderliness. She kept her face down, eyes averted, as her cheeks heated and her palms became sweaty. She had dreaded this moment. If they’d been going anywhere but a bar, she’d have joined them, but she couldn’t bring herself to go there. So, she had to perform a delicate balancing act. Somehow, she had to refuse this invitation, but leave open the possibility for others. Despite their different personal styles, she and Michelle had formed an instant bond. The last thing she wanted was to hurt their new friendship.

“I can’t tonight. Thanks for asking though. Maybe another time.” She took a deep breath and pasted on a smile.

“Hot date?” Michelle raised a perfectly plucked black eyebrow and grinned.

Valerie grinned back. “Just with my laundry.”

“You’re turning me down for laundry? Come on, you can do that tomorrow.”

Valerie shook her head. “I really can’t tonight, Michelle. Next time.”

Michelle muttered under her breath as she left. Valerie sighed as the door banged shut and left her alone with her memories.

That night, after all the scenes had been shot, Valerie waited for everyone to leave. She didn’t want to answer questions or receive pity.

She arranged and rearranged drawers and tools. The trailer contained three stations, each with its own make-up chair. A long table ran down one wall, with plenty of drawers for storage space. Well-lit mirrors hung above the table. Unable to find anything else to do, and convinced by the silence that everyone had to have left, she took out her keys to lock up. She jumped as a knock sounded at the door, the trailer rattled and a head peeked in.


“Oh, hi, John.” She expelled a deep breath and willed her heart to slow its frantic beat. “Do you need something?”

“No.” He entered and stood by the door. John Samuels played the lead. At almost six-foot three, he dwarfed the trailer and had to tip his head to fit. He folded his muscular arms across his chest and spread his feet apart. “Michelle told me you were not joining us tonight. I thought I would see if I could change your mind.”

Valerie rolled her eyes. “She is persistent.”

“You noticed.” John’s dark eyes twinkled. His mouth widened with a ghost of a smile. Valerie tried not to gasp.

He reminded her of a rugged cowboy — broad-shouldered, with a prominent brow, dark piercing eyes, high cheekbones and a cleft chin. When he smiled, even a slight trace of one, his eyes looked like liquid velvet and his dimples twinkled like stars in the night sky. A five-o’clock shadow covered his cheeks. Her fingers itched to brush against their rough texture, to tease his mouth into a full-blown grin.

“So, what can I say to make you join us?”

As he leaned against the wall in well-fitting jeans and a T-shirt that left nothing to the imagination, Valerie’s mind said, “Sleep with me.” Heat crept up her neck, over her cheeks and continued to the roots of her hair. A thin sheen of sweat dampened the space between her breasts. She felt the sudden urge to fan herself, like a damsel in distress in an old B-movie. Instead, she ignored her traitorous thoughts. Her balled fist pressed into her tight stomach.

“Tonight, not even chocolate will change my mind.”

She didn’t exactly lie. She had no intention of going to the bar, or of sleeping with him, no matter how her thoughts might try to sabotage her good intentions. She’d been fooled by surface finery before, and it had almost killed her. She wouldn’t let it happen again.

“I will remember that,” he promised. “But next time you will not get off so easy.” His eyes bored into hers for a moment, and then he turned on his heel and left.

Buy Link: (Skin Deep will be released in November) in e-book and print format. It will eventually be available on Amazon and Fictionwise as well.

Jennifer’s contact info:
Fried Oreos Blog:
Heroines With Hearts Blog (contributor):
Twitter: @JWilck

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writing Tuesday - Marketing tips for Twitter

Social networking can be a challenge for many who are just starting out in the writing world. Social networking is a necessary tool that the author can use to promote their book. I thought I'd take a look at how you can maximize your time on Twitter.

The Pros of Twitter:
It's cheap (i.e. free)
It's fun (once you get the hang of it)

The Cons of Twitter:
It is intimidating
It is confusing

At some point, you have to get your feet wet and join. Whatever your role in the writing world – author, illustrator, marketing, etc., these tips can prove very helpful.

For me, the main goal of Twitter is to increase my followers. The more followers you have, the more people you reach out to.

Tip #1 – You don't want to spend more than 10-15 mins on Twitter at any given time. Trust me. You have other things to do and social networking should not consume your day. Make it a point to check your Tweets 10-15 mins a day. The "optimum" goal should be once in the morning, and once at night, but if you can't do twice a day, strive to be on Twitter at least once a day.

#2 – Friend 5 people a day
I use the recommendations on the side, but I also follow my favorites which include Anne Rice, The New England Patriots, other 911 dispatchers, and even Chum Lee from Pawn Stars.

#3 – Retweet 5 posts a day
(this shows others you are supportive by retweeting their posts. In turn, fellow tweeters are generally inclined to retweet your posts)

#4 – Tweet 5 posts a day
These can be anything. For examples
Quotes from your favorite writers or authors. I like to quote HG Wells, Emily Dickinson and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Share YouTube links – this can be your book trailers or some of your favorite videos on you tube.
Amazon links to your books. If your book is on sale, mention it.
Places were you want fans to follow you like Good Reads, LinkedIn,, etc.
Links to reviews for your books.
Links to book reviews you've done.
Announcements for what's on your blog.
Announcement if you're visiting someone else's blog.
Announcements on any contests or giveaway you're doing.
Gush and give shout outs to your favorites: movies, authors, books, music, etc. I usually give a shout to coffee and chocolate during the week. It's okay to be a little cheeky and show off your personality. Readers like to see a little bit of your fun side.

You may not feel an immediate effect, but you'll see difference by the end of the week and even a bigger difference by the end of the month. Remember, it's all about growing your followers.

Tip #5 - #hashtags
These are "quick" tags that highlight popular posts. If you post "Check out my book on Kindle" (with the link) use #kindle at the end of the post. If other people are on twitter and check out the popular posts highlighted on the side, they should pull up a majority of post with the hashtags. If you have your post marked with a hashtag, it should, in theory, pull up.

Tip #6 - @ sign

If you talk about someone, let them know. They'll appreciate it and usually reciprocate. For example. Me: Just finished reading @StephBurkhart's book. Two thumbs up.

If anyone has any other tips, please feel free to share.
Go out there and tweet. And have fun with it.

PS: You can follow me on Twitter at:
I'd like to encourage a twitter exchange. Leave your twitter addy and I'll go ahead and follow you. Go ahead and follow others and you'll increase your following. (ie Twitter Birds. hehe)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feast of Candles: A Contemporary Spicy Christmas Short Story now avail!

Spicy Contemporary Christmas Romance
short story included in: Victory Tales Press
A Christmas Collection 2011 Sensual/Spicy

Drake de Brettville is going to take the biggest risk of his life – because of a bottle of wine. When Drake's brother returns to their home in Denmark with a bottle of wine from the Marquand Winery, Drake finds himself compelled to discover who the wine maker is. Intrigued to learn that the owner is a young woman named Lily Marquand, Drake travels to Napa Valley, California, to meet her. When Drake finds Lily, the sparks fly. Lily is that rare woman who stimulates him like no other, but to win her love, Drake has to shatter the battlements that guard her heart and prove to her Christmas wishes do come true.


Collecting her purse, she walked into the lobby as Drake descended the stairs. He presented her with a manila envelope.

"I'll look it over and give it to my lawyers to examine."

"When might you make a decision?"

"Give me a week."

He escorted her to her car and paused near the door. Lily unlocked it with her remote and leaned over, placing her purse along with the folder in the passenger seat. When she stood back up, Drake was directly in front of her. He cupped her cheek, his hand warm and encouraging. "When can I see you again?"

Her abdomen ached for more as waves of desire washed over her. Lily craved closer contact, but she tried to think rationally. "I'm, ah, not sure of my schedule."


"Yes – tomorrow. Come to the winery after it closes."

His lips brushed against hers, then gently covered her mouth. Lily welcomed him, his spicy scent sending her senses reeling. She placed her hands on his chest and moaned when his lips left hers, blazing kisses over her jaw, and searing a path of pleasure over her neck.

"So sweet," he whispered. His hands left a trail of heat from her waist to her breasts.

"Oh, Drake…" She arched closer to him. His mouth left her neck and he kissed her again, running his tongue over her bottom lip before mingling with hers.

Her head spun in a vortex of excitement. This man knew how to kiss.
An owl hooted. Startled, Lily broke away from him, but kept her hands firmly on his chest. She searched out Drake's eyes for a hint at what he was feeling. There was no hiding his raw attraction.

"Don't go tonight," he whispered.




Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Congrats! Danube in Candlelight, Book 3 of the Budapest Moon Series is now avail!

Avail: 1 Nov 2011
Genre: paranormal/werewolf romance
Avail as: ebook only

5 Stars, Reader's Favorite:
This story is the closest I have ever come to reading a book that feels like a movie!

Book Trailer on You Tube:

Set in Budapest 1922, The Hungarians are recovering from the war. Adam Varga is Hungarian to the bone and becomes an architect to help rebuild his nation. Morgan Duma returns from England also intent on helping to rebuild her country.

After a tragedy happens to her mother, Morgan discovers her father is a werewolf. She begins to question who she is, becoming more reckless, moredaring, and her choices more bold. When Zoltan Kristos, a known werewolf, requests Morgan accompany him to the summer ball, Morgan has to decide which man will best fit her life.


Morgan drew in a deep breath as the knot in her shoulder tensed. Adam had a point. How could she be so self-centered, dwelling on her high-strung emotions? Perhaps it was a cover. Perhaps she couldn't face the real issue because it mortified her. She didn't want to think about it now. Morgan turned her head away and reached over her shoulder to massage that tension-filled knot.

"Turn around." Adam's voice brooked no debate. She liked a man who commanded authority. Morgan turned, and he massaged both her shoulders. Heat from his hands trailed down her back. Her core warmed. Her body relaxed, reacting instinctively and with a desire she couldn't hide.

"Did I hit a nerve?" he asked.

"A nerve? In my neck?" She took a step backward to be closer to him.

"No. About your father. Is your real fear about what will happen to your mother once he turns her?" Adam kept his voice low and leaned close to her ear.

She closed her eyes briefly and faced her anxiety. "Yes."

"Morgan, our fathers' condition has a host of positive traits -- heightened senses, for example, but the best trait is the healing factor."

"I understand, Adam. That healing factor will help my mother recover from her awful injuries, but it comes with a tradeoff -- she's going to become a werewolf."

"Is it better she become addicted to morphine? That addiction is a beast in itself. Which would you prefer she'd become? The soldiers hooked on morphine have vacant eyes, and their hands tremble for their next fix. Do you want that for your mother? Fighting something she can't win against, or do you want her dealing with a manageable condition? Both our fathers are good men. They've managed it."

Morgan pursed her lips. Adam's tone was laced in objectivity and confidence, offering her a plausible reason for her father's actions. Morgan didn't want a shell of skin and bones that resembled her mother -- she wanted her mother well, both emotionally and physically.
Why had she been so selfish not to see that?

"It doesn't bother you that you have these traits?"

"I'm comfortable with who I am."

Morgan spun around, pressing the length of her body against Adam, curving her hand around the nape of his neck, and bringing his lips to hers. Their mouths met in a searing kiss full of desire. Want. Warmth. Pleasure replaced Morgan's emotional pain, and she deepened the kiss between them by sweeping her tongue into his mouth.

Adam groaned, wrapped his hands around her waist, and tugged her closer. Morgan continued the kiss, nipping his lower lip with her teeth. A blast of heat from his body washed over her like an ocean wave, sending pleasure spiraling through her. God, she had never felt so wonderful.

He threaded his hand through her hair and then yanked her head back. His mouth fell to her neck. Shivers of delight followed the hard, demanding kisses he placed on her skin.
"Adam, God, don't stop..."

He did just that. He withdrew his hand from her hair, sliding it down the side of her body to rest at her waist. She looked into his golden eyes blazing with the flames of desire.
Adam drew in a deep breath.

"Damn, Morgan, I am a man, and I have more control than that."

She placed her hand over his heart. "You enjoyed it. Don't deny it."