Friday, March 30, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Linda McMaken

STEPH: I'd like to welcome fellow Desert Breeze Author, Linda McMaken to the blog today. She's penned an "ancient" historical with a Roman setting called "Granite Rose." I love historicals and Linda's story sounds very intriguing. Linda, What is "Granite Rose" about?

LINDA: The Granite Rose is about two people caught up the web of politics beyond their control. They are from two different cultures, two peoples that hate each other, and two countries that have been entangled for years, each striving to advance their own political agenda.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

LINDA: Gosh, I started years ago, put it on the back shelf as other projects needed to be finished. It is also set in ancient Rome, which is not exactly an era many publishers, particularly romance publishers are eager to publish.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

LINDA: I am a book nerd and while reading a book on ancient Rome, I came across an interesting article about Dacia. I had never really heard of the country before except that it was defeated by Rome. Dacia is modern day Romania (hence the country being called Romania) and they were a very proud, advanced and cultured people. As I researched more on the Dacian people, I became more fascinated by the events that surrounded the war between them and Rome. Then one day Sianna strolled into the picture and the Granite Rose was born.

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

LINDA: Marcus is an alpha male, a Roman general. He has been in battles, he has been at the right hand of the Emperor, and he has lost family. He cares deeply for his family, he is patriotic, he believes Rome is right and mighty, and all the is good in the world.

He is conflicted, however particularly after meeting Sianna. She changes his mind on many things. In Rome during this era, marriage for love was unheard of. Marriage was a legal contract with specific entitlements, nothing more. If you married for love you were considered a weakling. He had to overcome a lot of cultural indoctrination to finally go after Sianna for love.

He also discovered that Rome wasn't always right, and the emperor could be his worst enemy.

STEPH: What does Sianna find appealing about Marcus.

LINDA: Sianna finds that at his core, Marcus is a stand-up guy. He has taken in his niece and nephew to raise, and he loves his family. Even though in the beginning, she is his hostage, he doesn't abuse her, other than verbal threats, she understands he is a warrior, but would never injure an unarmed opponent.

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

LINDA: I did do quite a bit of research to get things just right. Still, it is a fiction novel, so there are some liberties I took. LOL

STEPH: What's the theme of the story?

LINDA: Sometimes your enemy can turn into your greatest ally, and that inside all of us, I think, lurks a soul of "granite".

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

LINDA: Oh, a panster!

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

LINDA: No I don't.

STEPH: Fun question: Do you have any Easter customs/traditions you'd like to share?

LINDA: We always color Easter Eggs. My mom always made pickled eggs and even though they aren't my favorite thing, I make a few of them because it reminds me of her.

They entered the villa, finding Trajan and Hadrian engaged in a heated argument, ending with Trajan throwing a goblet across the room.

Marcus entered first, keeping Sianna behind him.

"You," Trajan yelled, pointing as he walked toward her. "Dacian, I want to talk to you now."

"What has happened Trajan?" Marcus asked, keeping himself between the raging emperor and Sianna.

"That barbarian Decebalus killed Longius." He grabbed her arm, jerking her out from behind Marcus. "Why Dacian?"

With Hadrian's help, Marcus wrenched Trajan's hand off her arm. The small struggle seemed to relax Trajan's temper. He stomped across the room. Sianna shuddered. Gods, could her father have betrayed her again? Could he have forfeited her life by killing the Roman?

"She was here, she had nothing to do with his murder," Hadrian pleaded.

"When did you receive word?" Marcus asked, helping Sianna to a chair. "Stay quiet, say nothing, understand?" he whispered to her.

"Tonight." Hadrian handed a rolled parchment to him. "Decebalus states he had him executed seven days ago when negotiations broke down."

"May I read it?" Sianna meekly asked.

"You have no right to read it, Dacian," Trajan yelled across the room.

Sianna stood up, scared and angry. "If my father is being accused of murder, I have every right to find out why." Her temper soared. If her life was already forfeit, she had no reason to hold her tongue.

She took the parchment from Marcus and read it carefully. "This was written by a Roman," she quietly announced.

"It was written by your father," Hadrian corrected her.

"No, a Roman wrote this. The name of our capitol city, Sarmizegetusae, is spelled the way it would appear in Latin, not Dacian." She laid the parchment on a table, pointing out the Latin word to Trajan

"It excuses nothing. Your father is a murderer." Trajan pointed a finger at her, inches from her face. The man who had kissed her hand and thanked her for saving his wife only just weeks ago was gone. In his place was a Roman warrior, a general, an emperor that was about to decimate her country.

"Why would he tell you he killed him? Don't you think he would let you believe he was still alive to get me back? He had no reason to murder this man. Someone is trying to slander his name by falsely accusing him." She was not willing to believe her father would actually jeopardize her life, not this way, not this easily. "Someone with much to gain by a war between our nations is responsible for this." The Dacian traitor, she thought.

"No, Dacian, for this Decebalus and Dacia will pay and will pay dearly." Trajan slammed a fist against a table.

Sianna pulled the dagger from Hadrian's sheath and charged across the room. "Here," she stabbed it into the wooden table, almost piercing Trajan's hand. "If you need a Dacian life to make things equal, take mine." She fell to her knees offering her life.
In an instant, Trajan ripped the dagger from the table, grabbing her hair at the nape of the neck, bending her head backwards, and held the blade tight against her throat.

"Trajan, no." Marcus unsheathed his dagger. Hadrian grabbed his arm. Marcus slung him against the wall. "Trajan."

"Are you scared to die, Dacian?" Trajan was cold, cruel.

Sianna was more terrified than she'd ever been in her life. This was where she would die. Nineteen years was all the gods had given her. She was not meant to die in her beloved Dacian mountains. She prayed the emperor would be mercifully quick.
"Yes, very afraid," she whispered.

I became a fan of this author from her first book, "Baer Truth" which was a romantic comedy that was a good fun read. I saw that this book had been published and bought it based on the previous book. I'm glad to say that it didn't disappoint. It has non-stop action with many twists and turns, the characters are well developed and her history was well researched. From the ranches of Wyoming to the halls of Rome, I'm looking forward to where Ms. McMaken takes me next. - T. Walker - Amazon Reviewer

Find Me Here:

My books can be found at:

Giveaway: I have a lovely Rose Pendant and a copy of the book that I am giving to one commentor.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

War Comes to Gaia in 3 days - A Green Rose Preview

War comes to Gaia in 3 more days. Dare to join the battle?

The Green Rose is a fantasy romance set in the mythical land of Gaia. There are 4 allied nations: N'Gasse, Daháka, Tapin, and Ravenrock. Past Ravenrock, to the east, in a tundra-like land, the savage wyldebeasts are kept at bay a 50,000 myle granite wall that runs the length of Ravenrock.

The evil mage, Balthyser, has betrayed Tapin. Seeking power, he uses the wyldebeasts to attack the allied nations, kidnapping the kings of Tapin and Daháka.

The rulers of the allied nations must seek the Green Rose and harness it's magic in order to defeat Balthyser.

Tapin is the land of Falcons. Sonia the crown princess, is a young woman of age more skilled with a sword than magic. She was told by the mage, Balthyser, that magic was weak in her. Her parents are King Julian and Queen Astoria. Sonia is bonded to her falcon, Hiro, and she can mind speak to him.

As the novel opens, the reader finds Sonia in a heated battle against 3 wyldebeasts defending Tapin's tents on Komodo Field. Sonia's strengths are her determination and tenacity, but when she meets the fearless Ivánstan of Daháka, dare she allow herself to trust him?

BLURB: Sonia and Ivánstan embark on a quest for the green rose in order to save Gaia from Balthyser's evil threat.


Sonia slid her tunic over her head and looked in the mirror. "It smells fresh."

"Lord Fernwood's servants were up most of the night cleaning our garments." Lucia handed Sonia her leather belt.

Sonia secured the belt around her waist. "His servants are very efficient."

Electra ran a rag over Sonia's sword, ensuring it was clean, and presented it to her. Sonia sheathed the blade of Deliban steel into her scabbard. Only a Taveran blade was stronger. Sonia carried Broadwing with pride.

"Prince Hendrik is doing much better. I saw a servant bringing him breakfast," said Lucia.

"That's good to hear."

"What can we do to help you?" asked Electra.

Sonia paused, running a hand through her thick hair. "Gaia is in danger from the wyldebeasts and Balthyser. I am going with Prince Ivanstan to find the green rose

"The green rose?"

"A highly magical flower. It was used to defeat a similar threat hundreds of years ago. Electra, stay here with Queen Rowan. She's assembling an army to march to Vesper's Keep and the Eastern Wall. I want you to represent our soldiers."


"Lucia, accompany Ivanstan's mage, Cason, to Ravenrock's capital, Tavere. He will need help with his mission. Take Snare with you."

Lucia nodded.

"Who will protect you?" asked Electra.

Sonia nipped at her lower lip with her teeth. "The Prince."

Electra raised an eyebrow.

Sonia straightened her shoulders. "Prince Ivanstan and I will defend ourselves. Don't forget we are bonded." She paused as heat rushed to her cheeks. Electra raised her eyebrow again. "Ah, to our animals," added Sonia.

"Well, the prince..." began Lucia, but her voice faded away.

"The prince, what?" prompted Sonia.

"The prince is a skilled swordsman," finished Lucia.

"That sounds like a diplomatic response."

"Perhaps she means to say the prince appears to harbor a genuine concern for you and neither of us wants to see you disappointed in a man again," chimed in Electra.

"Then rest assured I have come to the conclusion that Ivanstan is not Gabriel."

Electra stood and placed her hand on Sonia's shoulder. "Be careful."


PREVIOUS: Visit The Writer Limits to learn about Prince Ivanstan at:

NEXT: Visit Lindsay's Romance to learn about Queen Rowan of N'Gasse at:


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment about the fantasy genre along with your email and I'll pick a winner to receive an ARC of The Green Rose tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Inspiration behind "Twilight Over Moldavia"

I love fairytales. There's something about the heroic knight, the corrupt nobleman, and the headstrong princess that resonates with me. Perhaps it's a throw back to another time and place that feels achingly familiar. Or perhaps it's the chance to play in a world left in the past. In "Twilight Over Moldavia," my latest paranormal release, there's a heroic prince, a headstrong princess, and a vengeful werewolf for a villain.

The inspiration behind the story was a thought: I wanted to write a fairytale in reverse were the heroic princess saves the handsome prince with a kiss.

Then I had to ask: How do you go about doing that realistically? Especially since most fairytales have the heroic prince saving the princess.

The plot began to firm up. Prince Stefan was cursed to become a werewolf on his 18th birthday by his mother. His mother, however, bargained a condition with the evil werewolf to free her son should he fall in love before his 18th birthday. The evil werewolf, convinced that would never happen, agreed to the condition. Stefan's mother, the Queen, would move heaven and earth to find the perfect girl he could fall in love with – only the perfect girl dies and Stefan must marry her sister, the headstrong princess, Caroline.

Agim Kaba, inspiration for "Stefan."

The novel went through several drafts before settling comfortably into the story that is now "Twilight Over Moldavia." I loved turning the plot of the fairytale on its head. Stefan and Caroline embrace their destinies with noble hearts. Theresa, Stefan's mother, is tortured down to the depths of her soul because of her decision. Amazing where inspiration can take you, isn't it?

BLURB: Would you marry a man cursed to be a werewolf?

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



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."

Julianne Moore inspiration for "Theresa"

"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.











Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Lynette Endicott

STEPH: I don't know much about "More Than a Job." What's it about?

LYNETTE: Paige Hamilton is a single thirty-something who has given her life to her job working with people with developmental disabilities - until she is laid off. She finds there is life after that job, and more importantly, when she is no longer buried 24/7 there is room for love in her life.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

LYNETTE: The first draft was completed during a Book in a Week challenge. Then (blush with shame) I put it on a virtual shelf and didn't go back to editing and polishing until a critique partner asked what had happened to it. So I actually wrote it about seven years ago, then polished it for submission in about a week, then had five months to get it where I wanted before publication.

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

LYNETTE: My career for over thirty years has been with services for people with disabilities, including the type of work Paige does in the story. While I have never lived in Missouri I have lived in Illinois and Kansas, on either side of it, so I know the area. I love jewelry, so the Native inlay that Josie Robinson, the hero's mom, makes is familiar. Oh, and I have traveled all over New Mexico, so no, not any research that I can think of.

STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for the plot?

LYNETTE: I have wondered about that myself. The idea behind the Book in a Week is that you set aside a whole week including pre-cooking meals and tell everyone to leave you alone, and you write, write, write. That's what I did - sat down the beginning of every day and put in two or three two hour sessions. Sometimes I didn't have any idea what was going to happen next, but somehow the story emerged.

STEPH: Hollywood is calling. Cast the main characters.

LYNETTE: Paige Hamilton, who is fired from her job in the first scene, is a passionate advocate for and with people with disabilities in her town. You will also meet her grandmother, dad, two brothers, best friend, some of the people she served, the guy who fired her and her life coach.

Joshua Robinson's family buys the company where Paige used to work. You will also meet his parents, his twin sister, and the Human Resources Director.

STEPH: What do you hope resonates with readers after they finish the story?

LYNETTE: I hope that people will come away with a respect for people with developmental disabilities, and realize that even with diminished intellect they have the right to be treated with dignity, to live a full life, and to have someone in their lives to love.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

LYNETTE: All my life. I started with a diary in third grade, then a journal through junior high to college, and stories all through there. My family encouraged me to write my stories from the time I was very young.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

LYNETTE: Both. I usually plot out some basic flow to a story and write down character names and some things about them so I don't forget their hair color or eye color. After that it is panster all the way.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

LYNETTE: I have a bedroom converted into a home office. There is a recue Cockatiel that showed up on my back patio, now in a cage in one corner, and my certified therapy dog and my calico cat, also rescues, on a pet bed in another corner, my very eclectic music going (James Taylor and Carole King right now and a few minutes ago some bagpipes and next up is Kenny Rogers followed by Enya and Bare Naked Ladies. All over the map.) I have a cup of really good whole leaf tea at hand often lukewarm by the time I finish it, and my desktop computer open to my current story, and my internet (Facebook, Twitter, email, Blog etc.) closed down for now but set up so I can pop all those pages open with a keystroke. I actually only stop and look at them a few times a day.

STEPH: Fun question: Spring is in the air. Do you have a garden? What are some of your favorite flowers?

LYNETTE: Ah, Spring. It has been going on for two months here in Central California. My first Narcissus and some early iris and Peruvian lilies have been blooming since January. Daffodils were all over in February. Now my other Irises and Daylilies are blooming, and the roses, Penstemmon, Columbine and Lavender have buds on them. I love my flowers. I often have a bouquet on my desk when I am writing so that I don't miss being outside too much. Garden breaks are essential most of the year if it is sunny. The secret to my garden is coffee grounds from Starbucks. I pick them up in 5 gallon buckets and have for the 12 years we've lived here. The worms come out for the coffee and leave wonderful rich soil behind.

Find Lynette at:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Announcing my NEW Release - First Flag of New Hampshire

Now available through 4RV Publishing: First Flag of New Hampshire.

This is a MS/YA (Middle School/Young Adult) story set in New England. Believe it or not, I was inspired by the American Studies I took as a Junior in High School (1984-1985). It was a two period class that blended American History and Literature. I can still remember my teachers' names - Mr. Lord taught History and Mrs. Hussey taught Literature. At the beginning of the year, both of the teachers said it was a class you wouldn't forget, and I didnt. We did various simulations and on our first simulation, I was a member of the Continential Congress and it was our job to determine if we were going to declare our Independance from England. Surprise, Surprise, our Continential Congress did not declare war on England. I was very proud to be a tory judge that year.

We also went on a field trip to Newport, RI that year and visited the mansions built by the turn of the century nouveau riche, the Vanderbuilts and Astors to name a few. I fell in love with Newport that year.

American Studies is still inspiring me, even 25 years after the class.


It's the start of the school year and Alyssa has to take American Studies for college prep. She's paired with classmate Miguel DeSoto to find the first flag of New Hampshire, but the flag has only flown four times in New Hampshire's past. Can Alyssa and Miguel track flag through history before time is up?





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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Oreo!

Milk's Favorite Cookie just turned 100! It's hard to believe that Oreo has been around for that long. Since March 1912, Oreo has gone worldwide with multiple flavors.

How did Oreo get it's name? Well, it's been so long ago, no one really knows for sure. In French, "Or" means gold and in Greek "Oreo" means beautiful. Or... "RE" from cream was sandwiched between 2 "O's" to make Oreo.

Oreo got its start on March 6, 1912 in Chelsea, NY. The National Biscut Company (NaBisCo) formed in 1898. At the time in 1912, Nabisco was best known for the Barnum's Animcal Cookies. Their novelity design consisting of a cage attached to a string so they could hang on Christmas trees made them a big hit.

Oreo's are sold worldwide. In America, the Nabisco factory is in Richard, Virginia. In Europe, Oreos are made in Spain. Oreos for the Asian markets are produced in Indonesia, India, and China.

Some Quickie Oreo facts:

The top 5 Oreo eating countries are: US, Canada, Indonesia, Venezuela, and China.

Oreo's hit the store in Poland and Croatia in Feb 2011!

In Argentia, a popular flavor contains cookies with a banana filling.

In Canada, Oreos are made with coconut oil giving them a different flavor.

In 2011, Oreos were a 2 billion dollar business.

Double Stuffed Oreo hit the stores in 1974.

In 2004, the recipe was reformulated to make them trans fat free.

In 1912, when Oreos were 1st coming off the oven racks, Woodrow Wilson was President of the US, the Titanic sank, the Girl Scouts were founded and Boston's Fenway Park opened.

As a Birthday offering for Oreos, tell me what your favorite flavor is. Leave your name and your email contact number. I'll pick a winner randomly to receive a copy of my contemporary romantic suspense novella, The Faberge Secret.

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.

4 Stars, Manic Readers
A very satisifying read.


One Line Teaser: "And I don't happen to knock into tall, Russian, and handsome every day. Let me enjoy the moment."