Friday, February 24, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Nancy Kay!

Steph: Thanks for visiting today, Nancy. I used to be stationed in upstate New York at Romulus in 1989 when I was in the military. It was about an hour south of Lake Ontario. What's your closest Great Lake?

Nancy: Glad to be here Steph. I live about one mile from Lake Erie. In the mid seventies my husbands work brought us here. I grew up about two hours away in a small western Pennsylvania town just north of Pittsburgh, but I have fond memories of vacations north to the Erie and Buffalo, New York area along the lake.

You mentioned being stationed at Romulus. I've discovered the Seneca Army depot was established in 1941 during World War 11 and phased out after the Gulf War in the 90's. The town was named after the mythical founder of Rome. You write paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romances, as well as children's stories, young adult stories, poetry and horror. Bet you could branch out and do some mythology with little effort!

STEPH: I chuckle because I'm reading Rick Riodan's "Percy Jackson" series with my 9 year old son. There's something about being close to water that I find soothing. What appeals to you about the Great Lakes?

Nancy: The way they change. We often go down to the lake and watch the sun set. Lake Erie sunsets are spectacular, and each day brings a something different. On stormy turbulent days the lake crashes and churns, beautiful grays and steely blues create a backdrop for mystery and mayhem. On clear sunny days, the bold orange and amber sky mesmerizes as the sun balances on the horizon before slipping into the lake. In winter, ice dunes form where the waves meet the shore and the sun often appears white against a backdrop of aquamarine. Whew! Now doesn't that make you think drama, suspense and most important...romance!

STEPH: Now that paints a very romantic picture. I grew up in New Hampshire about an hour away from the Atlantic. I love visiting lighthouses and exploring the shore where water meets land. I remember hunting for starfish and lobsters on the rocks at Hampton Beach. When I was stationed in New York in 1989, what impressed me when I visited Lake Ontario was how much the shore reminded me of the ocean. What Great Lakes have you been to?

Nancy: I've been to Lake Ontario, crossed the Mackinaw Bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and visited the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts into Lake Superior. I've had the pleasure of crossing Lake Michigan on a large car ferry, the SS Badger from Michigan to Wisconsin. Quite an adventure!

Steph: Have you been able to work them into your stories?

Nancy: So far I've only written of sites close to Lake Erie. I concentrate on small towns, some real, some fictional. I love weaving the lure and beauty of this area into stories. The small towns and wonderful culture begs for their stories to be told. The area I've written about so far lies in the center of a triangle - Pittsburgh, Pa. to the south, Cleveland, OH. to the west, and Buffalo, NY to the east. Danger and Intrigue spill into the small towns and cities within this triangle. A fertile location for stories reflecting my ~sometimes bad things happen in small towns! ~ theme. After I conclude the Deadly Triad - book three comes out in September 2012, Deadly Encounter - I have another in mind for the area where I live. It's banging in my head and I've done some notes and loose outlines. Then, maybe I'll plan a getaway and check out another spot that might be of interest.

5. I understand there's some wine country up your way. Tell us about the PA/NY wine country. Do you have a favorite winery?

Nancy: What better back drop than rolling vineyards, and shared sparkling glasses of wine between lovers? Within a few miles of where I live are approximately ten wineries. My favorite is hard to pin down. Most of the local wines are of the sweeter variety because of the local grapes. However, in recent years new wineries have introduced dryer selections, providing something for everyone.

The wine belt stretches from eastern New York State, south of Buffalo, through Pennsylvania and into Ohio. Where I live in Pennsylvania the combination of climate and soil conditions are ideal for vineyards. In 1850 two insightful entrepreneurs planted the first vineyard near the community of North East. Their venture paid off in 1869 when South Shore Wine Co. was formed. Others followed, and today there are thousands of acres of vineyards and numerous wineries along the shores of Lake Erie.

STEPH: I love visiting California wine country in Napa and Sonoma counties, but we have closer counties to where I live. There's a lot of good wine that comes from the California Central Coast and Santa Barbara counties. In hindsight, I wish I would have explored the New York wine country. Have you been to gorge at Watkins Glen?

Nancy: I've only driven through the area. Why don't you tell me a little about the gorge? I'm always looking for a good spot for a suspense filled love story!

STEPH: The Gorge? My memory is rusty. There's a trickling brook, looks of greenery, rocks, hills, pleasant scents, its nature in its purest form and the gorge appeals to the explorer in me. Did you ever visit the Finger Lakes in upstate New York? I lived right next to Lake Seneca.

Nancy: Several years ago my husband and I spent a few days at Belhurst Castle located at the tip of Lake Seneca. It was very early spring and a little cool to explore the area, but we stayed at the Castle. My most vivid memory of our visit was a wine fountain in the Castle! Guests were welcome to use glasses provided in their rooms to help themselves. The accommodations were unique and in house dining provided a very cozy experience by a crackling fireplace sampling exotic and varied foods. But that's the only experience I've had in that particular area.

Steph: Now, why don't you tell us about your latest book, Deadly Revenge.

Nancy: Deadly Revenge is the second book of my Deadly Triad. Two of my favorite characters from Deadly Reflection, Ada and Rich, are in the spotlight in Deadly Revenge. Amidst suspense and danger two old friends rediscover one another. Here's an excerpt:

In silence, he helped her gather their after dinner wine glasses and followed her into the cottage. As she rinsed glasses, placing them in the dishwasher, Rich came to stand behind her. She leaned back when his arms encircled her, resting against him. "Are you surprised?" he asked.

She tilted her head, slanting a look over her shoulder. "No." His tawny gaze studied her. "No, I'm not. Things become locked inside a person over time. I've managed to build an emotional wall around myself. Tonight you shook that wall's foundation."

"Good." he smiled down at her. "Don't let guilt stop that wall from crumbling." His words held a wealth of understanding. "There are many ways to want a woman," he continued, pulling her close again. "It's been a while since my wants encompassed more than a physical itch."

His frank admission amused her, melting away some of the tension, pulling her thoughts back to center.

"You take my breath away, Ada. Sometimes I wonder how I overlooked you for so long. I'm not a shallow man, but something came alive in me when you showed up at Tom and Mary's looking totally different from the lady gardener I knew."

"You don't like my gardening attire?" she teased, shifting her weight.

"I actually kind of like you in your snug, red Ace T-shirt."

"Are you flirting with me, ma'am?"

"Hmmm. Maybe." Unless she was prepared to invite this man into her bed right now, she'd better stop. Stop and make sure this is what they both wanted.

Her eyes searched his face. She turned and, placing both hands on his chest, gently pushed him away. "I'm in danger of being swept off my feet," she admitted, and slapped her palm against him when he grinned and started to lean in again. "I need time to think about this, about us."

Rich tucked a wayward strand of her hair behind one ear, tracing his finger down her neck. "Don't look back. I've found it only complicates the road ahead. Good or bad, the past is just that, the past." He cupped her cheek and dropped a fast hard kiss on her lips. "How about we take things as they come and see where this goes?"

To conclude this foray into More Great Lakes Romance, I'd like to leave you with some interesting sites to visit.

Spend some time visiting some local wineries in Western Pennsylvania.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Excerpt Monday: Twilight Over Moldavia

5 Stars, Long & Short Book Reviews
Twilight Over Moldavia is even better than the first book in the series. It is an excellent story filled with just the right balance of romance, magic, and danger.

5 Hearts, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
The twisting story line will keep your nose in the book until you have finished. Stephanie's ability to add suspense and mystery to romances gives her stories all the more depth. If you love werewolf stories, romances, or a good book, I recommend Twilight Over Moldavia.

4 Stars, Vijaya Schartz, author
In this novel full of danger and intrigue, sexy scenes, and unspeakable secrets, the werewolves are the villains, and oh how dangerous they are, and unwashed, and uncivilized. The kind of villains you love to hate.

5 Stars, Mona Risk, Author "No More Lies"
Burkhart's writing style grabs the reader from the first page. She keeps you breathless with her suspense as she transports you to exotic areas you will enjoy discovering.

5 Stars, Karen Michelle Nutt, Author of the "Fallen Angel" Series:
"Ms. Burkhart paranormal tale is rich in history, painting a picture as clearly as if the reader is standing beside Stefan and Caroline."

5 Stars, Barbara M. Hodges, Author of "The Blue Flame"
Twilight Over Moldavia whisked me into a part of the world I knew nothing about, and gave me a wonderful love story filled with suspense too. What more could a reader desire?

5 Stars, Reader's Favorites, Brenda Ballard

Romanian unification is on the horizon. Prince Stefan Sigmaringen travels to Ploiesti, Carpathia. He's to be promised in marriage to the Crown Princes Caroline, a spirited young lady who prefers riding horses and archery to embroidery and dancing.

Despite Stefan's initial apprehension, he discovers that his intended is a pleasant surprise with a caring heart. He also learns a strange man named Timon has an unnatural interest in him.

Two years later, Stefan and Caroline are officially engaged. To Stefan's horror he overhears his mother confessing to a dangerous secret – she cursed him in order to conceive him and Stefan owes his body to Timon. There is a condition to overcome the curse, but Stefan will have to draw on all his courage and inner strength to confront the werewolf who desires to posses his soul. Stefan feels it isn't fair to fall in love with Caroline with a foul enchantment hanging over his head. Dare Caroline break the blood bonds of the curse with her love?


She nipped at her lower lip, and the energy between them surged. He tilted his head and drew her close, their mouths awkwardly skirting each other. Her breath, warm and hinting of apricots from the wine she had sipped earlier, ghosted over his cheek. Their lips brushed, and his pulse spiked. Gently, he continued to kiss her with hesitant exploration. She was the first woman he had ever kissed, and her lips were everything he had expected -- and more.

He placed his hands on her waist and tugged her close, pressing her against the length of his body. She put her hands on his shoulders and trailed her fingers along the nape of his neck.

Stefan groaned and increased the intensity of the kiss. Fueled by their mutual desire, his manhood grew hard. He hadn't known that feeling before. He could lose his head to it.

He broke off the kiss and drew in a breath. Confusion pooled in Caroline's expression.

"No." He paused. "I don't think we should go too fast."

"All right."

"Alina, I don't think it's wise for us to discuss Viktor," Stefan's mother said, her proximity startling him. Nervous energy spiked through him at her tone.

He placed his finger over his lips, and Caroline nodded. He furrowed his brow and gestured for her to hide behind the rose bushes near the bench with him. She did so.

His mother's and Lady Alina's footsteps echoed along the walking path.

"Viktor put all of this in motion," Lady Alina said.

Stefan's mother exhaled. "No, I did," she said, her voice heavy with regret. "I made a poor decision."

"He took advantage of you in a moment of deep pain. You were mourning the death of your son, Hadrian."

"I should have been more guarded."

"Viktor was a cunning wolf. We all thought he could be trusted."

Their footsteps stopped. Stefan prayed they couldn't hear his pounding heartbeat.

"The curse will come to fruition soon," Alina said.






Saturday, February 18, 2012

Missing Whitney Houston

I have to admit, Whitney Houston's passing caught me by surprise. Why? I don't know really, but I've given it a lot of thought. Whitney's music, songs, and voice resonated deeply within me. I think it's this fondness that's left a small ache in my heart. I'd like to share a little about Whitney, her music, and my feelings. If Whitney's passing has resonated with you, please feel free to share your feelings.

Whitney Houston was me. And she wasn't. She was born in 1963 and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She understood what it was like to be raised in a middle class town and how the young struggle to find their place in the world. She found her place early when her voice distinguished her as a vocal talent.

In 1985, her 1st album, "Whitney Houston" was released. I remember watching her do a guest spot on "As The World Turns" (my favorite soap) and I liked her – her smile, and the honesty in her performance. I loved her album and one of my favorite songs was "How Will I know?" I was 17 in 1985 and that song echoed the sentiment I had toward love at the time – how will I know?

I loved the different styles she sang – pop, contemporary, jazz, and I loved them because her voice was so rich and mesmerizing. I'd never heard anyone sing with such emotion and passion like Whitney.

In 1987, I was stationed in Germany, and her 2nd album, "Whitney" came out. I enjoyed this album just as much. Whitney sang about things I could identify with – falling in love, doubt, uncertainty, regret, making the wrong decision despite yourself. Those two albums connected with me like no other albums at the time.

My favorite Whitney Houston song is "Greatest Love of All." Why? The young are the future. She sang of self-respect and dignity. Those powerful lyrics and her haunting voice sent me a message that stayed deep in my soul to this day.

Of course I enjoyed her more up tempo songs, "So Emotional" and "How Will I Know." Her 1991 rendition of the Star Spangled Banner during the Super Bowl in the midst of the Gulf War honored me as a soldier in the military.

It saddened my heart to hear of Whitney's struggles with drugs and addiction. We all have demons and how we choose to deal with them define who we are as a person. To admit to demons is one of the hardest things to do. I hope people take a positive message from Whitney's struggles. Face your demons. Don't give up. Ask for help. Those who love you will provide it.

I'd like to leave you by sharing just a couple of Whitney's amazing accomplishments with you.

Whitney has 6 Grammy Awards.
She's the only artist to have 7 consecutive #1 hits.
Whitney's mom, Cissy Houston, is an accomplished Gospel singer.
Whitney is of African-American, Native American, and Dutch descent.
Whitney's version of "The Star Spangled Banner" is the only version of the National Anthem to be a pop hit.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Look at Amazon's World

Amazon can be a jungle for an author in the promo and marketing world. And by a jungle, I mean if you don't learn to swim in the river, the piranhas will get you.

I've seen authors try to get the word out about their books with no luck and I've seen authors take off due to the success of the Select and Prime programs. Today, I'm just going to give you an overview of the Amazon Prime, Select, KDP platforms and touch on using their message boards. Mind you, only you, the author, can decide what's the best way to proceed with your promo and marketing endeavors. If you think the Amazon tools are worth taking advantage of, follow up with your own research and determine on your own if they'll work for you.

This platform is geared for die-hard Amazon fans, readers, and viewers. The cost for Prime is $79.00 a year. Some of the benefits include:

Free 2 day shipping in the US

In the US, you can access free, unlimited movies and TV shows through Amazon Instant Video (This feature reminds of Amazon's version of Netflix) I have a Kindle Fire and Amazon offers a wide variety of video content.

There's a lending library where you, as a reader, can get a book on loan like checking it out of the library for free.

If you have Prime, then those books in the Select Program are free or sold at a discount for you.

KDP Select

KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. This is a service where authors self publish their books with Amazon. If you choose to use KDP Select, there are 2 things they require:

1. That the book is available through them EXCLUSIVELY
2. For a min. period of 90 days.

Where Prime and Select meet:

If you're an author in the select program, one of your promo tools is the free promo you can offer your book free for readers up to 5 days during a 90 day period. What does this do? Give your book exposure to the massive amount of readers on Amazon. As a reading member of Prime, you can have free access to the book. The thought is if readers like your writing, they'll download/buy more of your books and the boost you see from using this Select tool will carry over to your other titles.

I know several authors who have taken advantage of this option and have seen their Amazon rankings and sales rise.

Amazon Message boards

Amazon readers hang out on the Amazon message boards. They are a great way to find more books. I've noticed readers will recommend favorite books and recommendations can go viral. That said, as an author, just be mindful where you post. Lurk first and get the feel of the board. Post your promo in the MEET THE AUTHORS forum only. If you venture into other forums, participate in the discussions, but don't give any promo of your book. That's not cool on Amazon. Readers want to discuss books in those forums. It's so important to respect these rules. If you don't, you'll be called out, making your promo efforts harder instead of easier.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, concerns and feedback. Do you have a success story to share?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weight Loss Week #4 - 29 JAN - 11 FEB

The Superbowl is evil.

But I have hope for Valentines Day.

Actually, I'm excited. I've lost 5 pounds so far and I can definately feel it around the middle. Unfortunately, Superbowl sidetracked me - if only for a day or two. I thought I'd be smart and go to work, thus avoiding all the evil tempting food. Work held a potluck.

I'd like to think I did well with my portion control, but when I stepped on the scale, my mouth dropped to the floor in shock. I looked the horror in the eyes and decided to fight back. After all, I am paying for this.

The next day, I went to the gym and earned 10 activity points, keeping to the points allowed for the day. Two days later, I had recovered from my superbowl gaffe.

So that did this teach me? When the going gets tough, buckle down and look the ugly right in the eye. Okay, I had a bad day. I can have better days and recover. And I did. You can't avoid the scale. Damn thing is lingering like a dust bunny under the bed. You need to be accountable no matter how ugly it is.

So what am I doing to do for for Valentines Day? Keep it low key. (Thankfully, I don't have to work.) My husband is working, but he usually gets me flowers. A card would be nice. A nip of chocolate would bring a smile to my face. I think its important to show my boys how to be thoughtful on Valentines. So far I'm having a good week. Looking forward to the next 2 weeks. My goal. Keep the fruits up and keep working out.

I'd love to hear what works for you, thoughts, comments, frustrations. I'm here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Jillian Chantel

STEPH: I just love visiting with Jillian. She's a bunch of fun, and I'm looking forward to reading her latest release, "Sebastian's Salavation." Jillian, What's "Sebastian's Salvation" about?

JILLIAN: It’s a romantic suspense with a hero who was a Green Beret and was injured in Afghanistan. While in rehab learning to walk again, he found he had a gift for painting and, since he was medically discharged from the Army, he begins a career as a painter of nudes. The story is his journey from his self imposed exile from dating because of his war injuries, to dealing with a stalker who has it in for him, and finally, to acceptance of who he is and his past.

STEPH: What was the inspiration for the story?

JILLIAN: I have a couple of friends who are amputees and wanted to write a story with a hero with that disability as sort of a tribute to them. Everyone deserves love even if they don’t have a perfect body and I wanted to go against the romantic type and have a non-perfect hero.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

JILLIAN: It was my NaNoWriMo story for 2010. So, the first draft was done during those 30 days of November, 2010.

STEPH: Congrats on doing NaNoWriMo! That can be one demanding month. Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

JILLIAN: I had to do some. I’m blessed with a friend who has a husband in the military and he was quite generous as I picked his brain about Green Berets. Once I talked to him in depth and took a ton of notes, my research was easier as I knew what I needed to look for and verify. I dedicated the book to them for their invaluable help.

STEPH: Do you cast your characters? If so, who is Sebastian? Joanna?

JILLIAN: Sebastian is Idris Elba, a British actor who I adore. My Sebastian is American but the inspiration for him was a British bloke. I really didn’t have a particular person in mind for Joanna. She’s a tall, blonde, British daughter of an Earl. I mostly cast the hero, not the heroine. I don’t know why that is, but that’s the way I do it. I guess I need some guy to drool over and not so much for the woman.

STEPH: Sebastian is the hero. What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

JILLIAN: His strengths are his tactical skills and his ability to speak foreign languages. He is much admired for his work as a painter as well as his work in the military. He’s loyal to his friends. His weaknesses are his belief that he’s unlovable due to his disabilities and scars. He can’t forgive himself for the situation in Afghanistan that cost him his military career and wants to avoid violence in any form. He also has an issue with accepting assistance from anyone. He’s very independent and tries to cope with everything on his own.

STEPH: What does he find appealing about Joanna? Why does she stick out?

JILLIAN: Initially, he believes Joanna to be merely a spoiled girl with a trust fund. Eventually, her acceptance of his disability softens his heart toward her. He finds she has an inner strength he didn’t expect.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

JILLIAN: I write pretty much anywhere, but my favorite spot is in the den sitting on the couch with my laptop on the arm. I like some noise around. Music or even the television on in the background. I don’t like conversation, though. It’s strange, but I seem to write better with noise. I guess it comes from having written when my kids were little and running around. I also have a lot of noise around in the day job with people coming in and out of my office to lay things in my inbox. I can concentrate on my work when they are doing that as long as they don’t talk to me. And yes, I know how weird that sounds.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

JILLIAN: Pantser all the way. I usually start a story with the hero’s name and maybe three sentences of what I think is going to happen and then start typing. I love the joy of discovery as I go along.

STEPH: Fun Question: Chocolate or Flowers for Valentines Day?

JILLIAN: Chocolate for sure. I love flowers but I don’t love the way the floral industry jacks up the prices for a couple of days around February 14. I think that’s terrible. It’s something I feel pretty strongly about.

Thanks for having me come by, Steph. It’s always fun to hang out with you. I’m going to give away an e-copy of Sebastian’s Salvation to one commenter.

Visit me on the web here:
Book trailer:
Buy link:

Three lives intertwine—a former Green Beret, now a painter of nude portraits tormented by the death of his comrade, an earl’s daughter, and a crazed stalker. Will the acts of the stalker force the soldier back into the life of violence which he sought to avoid?

Sebastian Hughes, wounded on a mission in Afghanistan, discovers a talent for painting nude portraits while in a rehabilitation center learning to walk again after losing part of his leg. He becomes the toast of London society and women clamor to be painted by him.

Lady Joanna Gresham, nursing a broken heart and used to getting what she wants, sets her sights on having her portrait painted by Sebastian. Once she meets him, she wants him for herself. She pursues him, intent on winning him. What she didn’t count on was a stalker who wants to harm everyone Sebastian holds dear.


Joanna Gresham passed Margaret in the hallway of Bast’s building. Margaret carried a saddle under her arm.

Margaret stopped her and hitched the saddle to a more comfortable position. “You one of the many?”

“Many what?”

“Clients of Bast’s?”

Joanna shook her head. “No. But I’m thinking about it. I was at his show last night and am very impressed.”

“With the man or the artist?” The woman smiled coyly.

“The artist of course.” Joanna stood tall and looked down her nose at the impertinent woman. The nerve to ask me such a thing. As if I’d be interested in a hoodlum.

“Don’t have to get huffy, Lady Joanna. All the women in town are swooning over the man. Some are even commissioning portraits just to tempt him with their bodies. No harm meant.”

Joanna ran her hands through her hair. “Sorry. Just moody, I guess.”

“No problem. Enjoy your session.”

“I don’t have a session. I’m just going to talk.”

“Good luck then. I think you’ll like Bast. I gotta go. Late for a practice run.”

“Good luck with practice. Ta, Margaret.” Joanna waved good-bye and approached the door to Bast’s atelier. Why am I so nervous? He’s just a man I want to hire. Why should I feel so skittish?

Joanna knocked lightly on the door.

The door burst open, and the man asked, “What did you for—”

He stopped short. “Uh. Sorry, I thought you were Margaret, come back for something she forgot. She always leaves something behind.”

“Is that why you were already at the door?”

He smiled. “Yeah. I give her about three minutes after she leaves to come dashing back. I thought I timed it right.” His smile got larger.

Why does his smile have to be so spectacular? He’s gorgeous even with that scar across his face. “Sorry, it’s just me. I’m not sure if you remember—”

“Of course, I do. You’re the lady in the alley, the one that needed no help with her aching feet. Come on in.” He opened the door wider to allow her access to the loft.

Once they were inside, he showed her over to a client chair. He took a seat behind the desk, leaned across the top, and asked, “What can I do for you?”

She put one hand on the desktop and scraped her nail across the surface. “I was at your show last night—”

“Yeah, I know. I saw you, remember?”

“I recall.” She frowned. Was the man determined to make her feel stupid?

“Sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Go on.” Bast nodded his encouragement.

“I was thinking I might want a portrait of myself. Your work is impressive. Very tasteful. I know it seems like I’m just jumping on a trend, but I really am in awe of your abilities.”

“Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate it. I’m a little full right now. The show last night garnered me a lot of commissions, and I’m afraid I don’t have time to add one more person to my schedule. I’ll be glad to put you on the waiting list.” He pulled a pad out of his top drawer.

She stood, and the chair teetered and fell back against the wall. “I know what you’re doing. You jerk.”

He leaned back in his chair and looked at her. His face showed no emotion. “What’s your problem, Lady?”

“Lady? You say it that way because you know who I am? You think you can be a sarcastic bastard to me?”

“Ma’am, you came in here, didn’t introduce yourself to me, and now you’re offended? I can’t figure that out. All I said was I have to put you on my waiting list. How you think that’s something offensive, I don’t know.” He sat forward in the chair.

She glared. “I’m Lady Joanna Gresham. I don’t do waiting lists.”

He stood up and walked around the desk to her. He got in her face and said, “I don’t do snobby Ladies. So, I suggest you get out of my studio.”

Joanna pushed his chest. “I just bet you don’t do ladies.” She looked around and took in the whole room and nodded toward the fainting couch under the window. “I bet you do the ladies right over there.”

Enraged, he grabbed her arms and shoved her against the wall. He pressed against her. “If I wanted to do a lady, I’d do her right here against this wall.” He lifted her off her feet as if she was no larger than a toy doll and pulled her over to the other client chair. He sat in it and pulled her on top of himself. “Or here in this chair.”

She jerked off his lap and stumbled backward. “How dare you touch me, you arrogant—”

“What? Black bastard? Is that what you want to call me, your white holiness? Lady Joanna Gresham that doesn’t do waiting lists? Huh? Huh? That what you want to say?” He stood up.

She continued to back up. “You’re crazy. You know that? You’re insane.”

He stalked toward her. “And you’re all alone here with me. A crazy, scar-faced, big black man who isn’t intimidated by a title. Now, what are you gonna do?”

“I’m leaving.” She flounced toward the door.

Just as she got to the door and opened it, he slammed his hand on it and shut it. His body leaned against hers. He pressed against her and whispered, “I bet you always leave. When the going gets tough and you don’t get your way, you leave. Right?”

He let go of the door and stepped back. “Thank you for coming by, ma’am. I’ll be sure to not add you to the waiting list.”

She jerked the door open and left.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Copyright Your Work

The Pros, The Cons, The Ugly

What is a copyright? In a nutshell, it's where you register your written work with the Library of Congress (Washington DC). You can also register any film, vocal work, and music with them.

Many authors ask "Do I have to register a copyright?" "Aren't I protected without having to register?"

Technically, you have the copyright as soon as you write down the word. It's your intellectual property. You can still publish a short story, novella, and novel without having to register a copyright.

So what's the benefit of registering a copyright? It's absolute proof you own the copyright in a court of law. And that's the best protection you could have.

Just recently I heard about the following scenario: An author used the KDP Select Program on Amazon to promote their book. A pirate site came along, pirated the work and attempted to pass it off as their own. They approached Amazon and asked them to take down the work. Amazon contacted the original author and told them they had to prove they had the true copyright. What's an author to do? If you can prove you have registered your copyright, you've just foiled the pirates and kept your work in good standing.

The Pros:

By registering your written work with the Library of Congress you have absolute legal proof of the copyright that will hold up in a court of law.

The Cons:
It's time consuming, costs money, and is a pain the butt. Why put up the hassle?

Let me stress: it is up to you as the author to decide if you want to register your copyright with the Library of Congress. Do your homework. You know your own situation. Remember your work is copyrighted the minute you put it on paper. You're just registering it – offering legal proof to others that the work is yours.

Recently, I decided to register some work with the Library of Congress. There are 3 options:

1. Paper
2. CO form
3. Electronically

Being kind of Internet savvy, I decided to register electronically. The benefits? It costs only $35.00, easily paid with a credit card, and it will take 3 months to receive a paper copy of proof in the mail. I went for it. Guess what? The electronic filing system is picky. It's best supported by using Internet Explorer. I have Safari. One day it worked, the other, it didn't. If you're a Safari user, be aware it's not the most compatible system and it might work one day and not the next.

You have to register for an account which is free. There are 3 steps, the form, the payment, and then uploading your work.

Take your time filling out the form. Don't rush. If its your first time, give yourself about 20 minutes. Once you're done, then you're directed to pay. This part is easy and goes quickly. You should be redirected back to the copyright area where you are prompted to upload a copy of your work. Fini.

The Ugly

Using the CO form is similar. You fill out the form on your computer (downloaded from the copyright site), sign it, send it off with your payment of $50.00 and copies of your work to the Library of Congress. Turn around time is 6 months.

The TX form is nasty. Download it from the website, fill it out, enclose hardcopies of your work (1 if unpublished, 2 if published) and $65.00. Turn around time is 10 months.

See the benefits of filing electronically?

Does anyone want to share their copyright experiences? Pros? Cons? Ugly? Why do you do it? Or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, & feedback.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Blurb & Excerpt from: The Faberge Secret

My contemporary romantic suspense novella, "The Faberge Secret" released on 15 DEC 2011. Enjoy this excerpt!


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!

5 Stars, Reader's Favorites
Fabulously written, the story combines elements of mystery, action, love, and tender family moments all at the right places, making a perfect fit. If you want a good story combining history, crime, and passion, "The Faberge Secret" is the book for you.

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.

5 Hearts, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
As the love story thicken, the suspense heightens and it won't let your eyes leave the page. I recommend The Faberge Secret to all of the romance readers. Even if you have never read romance, The Faberge Secret would be a great place to start.


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?


Fascinated by Dimitri's story, Elise sipped her warm milk. "Boris' van was in front of the auction house. He told me the auction didn't want his items. They didn't think they were valuable enough."

Dimitri snapped his fingers. "Ah, all right. That makes sense, but how could they miss the egg? They had to know it was valuable."

"Perhaps they didn't want it. Perhaps they suspected it was stolen and didn't want anything to do with it."

"So why did you buy it?"

"How could I pass up something so precious? I love the beauty of it."

"I'm glad you appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of the egg."

"Of course I do. I'm an art history major."

Dimitri continued to look at her thoughtfully. He rubbed his chin. "Alexi didn't tell me, but I wonder... could Boris have been his contact?"

"Boris?" Elise sipped her milk. "I doubt it. If you want my opinion, he didn't strike me as the informer type."

"No... Boris mentioned a name. Anatoly, I believe, when I talked to him. I wonder if he was Alexi's informant."

Elise shrugged. The name wasn't familiar to her.

"Perhaps... yes. Perhaps Anatoly was Alexi's informant, and he stole the goods to give to Boris. Boris was supposed to use the auction house to sell them, but they didn't anticipate the auction house not wanting the items, so Boris sold them on the street," Dimitri mused.

"It's plausible, but how did Kelch's men know to track us down?" Elise asked.

Dimitri scrubbed his eyes with the palm of his hands. "No... no... but..."

Elise put down the mug and placed her hand on his waist. The contact sparked a fire in her limbs. "What's wrong?"

"Your receipt--" He lowered his hands. Guilt splayed across his face. "I saw it, and that's how I knew Boris had sold you my egg. I... I crumpled it up and threw it on the floor of the van. Kelch must have broken Anatoly, and then sent his men to find Boris. And if they found him--"

"Oh." Elise swallowed at the fear glittering in his eyes -- fear for her. "They found the receipt with my name."

"Yes. Damn it! I should have pocketed the receipt, but I was furious. All I wanted was my egg."

Apprehension coursed through her. That's why Lucy had been attacked. Kelch and his men hoped to find the egg because they knew Elise had bought it. Lucy had just happened to be in the hotel room because Elise was on a date -- with Dimitri.

He pushed her hand off his waist, clenched his fists, and marched into the living room, halting close to the window. Was he angry at her, or at himself? Well, a part of her was angry at him, too. She and Lucy were in danger -- real danger -- because of that egg, but a part of her just wanted to reach out to him, to comfort him, to tell him everything would be all right.

Elise shifted from foot to foot. Dimitri truly had protected her and Lucy tonight, but how much could she trust him? Was it all about his egg? That's all he'd thought about when he'd thrown the receipt on the floor. No. This man respected his family. He honored Christmas. He was spiritual. She couldn't let him beat himself up for a mistake.

She left the kitchen and walked up behind him.

He stiffened. "Elise, now is not the time. I want to be alone."

She ignored him and placed her hand on his back just under his shoulders. "I know you didn't intend to put Lucy and me in harm's way."

"But I did."

"No, I've got to fix this. I've got to make this right."

"Dimitri, stop--"

He spun around and pressed the hard length of his body against hers, curving his hand around the nape of her neck. His kiss was hard and demanding. Her core heated. Her bones melted. A man's kiss had never rocked her senses quite like this.