Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a very happy, prosperous, peaceful and love-filled New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing for the holidays, I wish you peace, joy and prosperity and many it continue throughout the year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Please welcome Stephanie Burkhart

Pleas welcome Stephanie Burkhart with us, the author of paranormal and extraordinary stories to my blog today. She is offering a give-away today with details at the end of the blog.

STEPH: Thanks for having me here today, Sarah. I was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. At 18 I joined the Army wanting a great adventure. And I got it.  I've been to Germany, France, Denmark, Poland, and Hungary just to name a few countries. I was married in 1991 and left the Army in 1997. Now I work for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. I'm married with two young sons, ages 9 and 5.

You can find me on the web at:

My recent novels include:

The Budapest Moon Series

Paranormal/werewolf romance

The Hungarian

The Count's Lair

Danube in Candlelight

The Windsor Diaries

Steampunk romance

Victorian Scoundrel

Moldavian Moon Series

Paranormal/werewolf romance

The Wolf's Torment

Twilight Over Moldavia – releases 1 JAN 2012

Releasing 15 DEC 2011:

The Faberge Secret

A contemporary Christmas Romance

My other Christmas stories include:

Christmas in Bayeux and

Feast of Candles in the 2011 Christmas Collection released by Victory Tales Press
A picture of the Danish Royal Castle

SARAH: How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newspaper?

STEPH: I don't dream so my inspiration for stories don't come through them. I get a germ of an idea and then I research. From the research I get "what if" questions which form a basic plot. Then I flesh out the characters using bios and establishing internal conflict. I call this "preliminary" work and it usually takes 2-3 weeks to really flesh out.

SARAH: Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?

STEPH: It never lags. Sounds scary, doesn't it? There is always an idea in my head.

SARAH: Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?

STEPH: Gosh, I'd have to say, if anything, I want to write books like Diana Crosby – really polished in setting, characterization, and plot.

SARAH: What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?

STEPH: I think writing workshops are great. Unfortunately, my time is very limited with real life commitments. I wish I could attend more workshops than I do.

SARAH: What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?

STEPH: Dina Hickman. She made me believe I could be a writer.

SARAH: Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

STEPH: You bet! "Astronomy" by Blue Oyster Cult is "Stefan's and Caroline's" song. They are my hero and heroine from my upcoming release, "Twilight Over Moldavia."

SARAH: Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

STEPH: If I do play music, I like to play Kevin MacLeod's music. It's mellow and peaceful and doesn't disturb my train of thought.

SARAH: Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?

STEPH: I'll read anything, but honestly, I'm picky about reading paranormals. I really enjoy Karen Michelle Nutt's paranormals and Barbara Edwards because they write paranormals with the focus on the man and not the creature he is.

I'm more flexible with my contemporary writing and reading, and I'll read a wider variety of those, but prefer those with an international setting.

SARAH: What is your process from idea to first draft?

STEPH: Research. Researching gives me ideas. I do a lot of sketching with pen and paper.

SARAH: Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer? Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?

STEPH: I haven't given any assistance per se, but I am a moderator on I find it's hard to give assistance to new writers only because they aren't really receptive to feedback. I'm willing to give feedback, but I think that receptiveness comes with maturity as you grow as a writer. As far as another writer helping me, I don't mind. Sometimes they see angles I don't see.

SARAH: What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

STEPH: Publishing with multiple publishers. It lets me know a variety of publishers are interested in my writing and that means a lot.

SARAH: If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?

STEPH: I think I'd square away my mortgage first, lol!! Yes, I definitely support charities. I think the closest ones to my heart involve hemophilia, a blood disease that can now be managed for those who have it, and any charities or organizations having to do with sensory integration dysfunction. My 5 year old son, Joseph, has sensory issues and it's been a challenge to meet his needs at times. (SID) can present on its own, but it is very commonly associated with Autism because a lot of autistic children have sensory issues. A great book to read is "Raising a Sensory Smart Child." It's helped me a lot identify what my son needs regarding regulating his senses. After that, I'd like to support Autistic awareness and research behind autism.

SARAH: What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?

STEPH: Be receptive about learning the craft. Learn everything you can. Be open to the advice other writers offer.

SARAH: What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

STEPH: I like my heroes to be noble. From nobility comes honor, integrity, and strength. I like heroines to be clever. I don't like the typical heroine in distress. I'd like her to make her own choices and decisions. I'd like her to project an inner strength, but show vulnerability when she's alone.

My release in the 2011 Christmas Collection from Victory Tales Press is called: "Feast of Candles." Here's a blurb & excerpt. Enjoy!

BLURB: 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.


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?










Contest:  You won't want to miss this!!!!

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite Christmas Carol is. I'll come back on the 14th and announce a winner. The winner receives a decorative cloth Christmas tree, candles and chocolate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

For Love of Banjo the cover

This is the cover for my soon to be released sequel to Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride, For Love of Banjo.  It's a World War I story.
Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.


Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past. To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.

Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.

Will either of them find happiness?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Please Welcome Ginger Simpson

I am pleased to introduce Ginger Simpson to my blog. I hope you enjoy her interview and the excerpt from her book, Shortcomings. 

Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.

My website address is and there is a short bio and all my books are listed there. I don’t think you want me to list them all here since I’ve been doing this for over ten years now and have amassed quite a backlist. I’ll just say I’m an old married woman, living in TN, who dotes on her only grandchild (Spencer), and loves to write.

How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?

My inspiration for stories are character driven. I’ve only written one book that wasn’t, and The Locket was the hardest book for me to write, aside from my debut/swan song Erotica which I wrote under a pen name. In The Locket, I didn’t have a character with a road map handy to lead me, so I had to try to plot, which I suck at. I’m a pantser, tried and true.

Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?

Until recently, I found no inspiration when my characters took a hiatus from speaking to me, but I recently tossed around a few ideas with some fellow author friends and found an event that got my character involved again. Since this was the first conversation lapse between me and my heroine, I was a tad worried. Thankfully, Hattie’s Hero is back on track, and Hattie, although not the chatterbox she was, is at least telling her story again.

Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?

I’d have to say Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although I’ve drifted back and forth in genres, I always tend to return to my “roots” in the old west. I grew up reading all of Ms. Wilder’s books, and although my adult self drifted to more mature storylines, I still attribute my love for historical novels to my esteemed yoda, LIW.

What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?

Honestly, I’ve only registered for two, and although I found them interesting and did glean a few helpful tips, as a pantser, I still have to rely on my characters. You can’t teach a non-plotter to plot. It just doesn’t come easy. But… every editing session is like a workshop for me. I’ve not come away from one where I didn’t learn a valuable lesson.

Oh, and the two workshops I did attend were presented by Cheryl St. John, a very talented HQ historical author. I highly recommend her workshops because she presents them in language you can easily understand, provides handouts, and lots of time for question and answers. BTW, I receive no compensation for my endorsement. lol

What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?

Aside from my Yoda, I’d have to say that Maddy Baker and Cassie Edwards have been my inspiration. I believe I’ve read just about every western romance they’ve penned, and I’ll always consider them to be mentors.

Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

No, but I do listen to music while I write. I love R&B. In my opinion, real R&B died with Luther Vandross.

Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

Gosh, I’m good. I saw this question coming and answered it. Silence is something I never enjoy. I really don’t want to, because that will mean I’m dead. I have a malformed carotid artery on both sides of my head, so I hear the blood rushing to my brain. I always have either the TV or radio going in the background, and at night, I sleep with a white noise machine. The diagnosing doctor told me if he had that noise in his head, he’d shoot himself. It’s not an option for me. I have so much to do and so little time to do it. 

Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?

Of course, my favorite reads are always going to be western historical romance, but I’ve branched into other genres through reviewing. I’m glad I ventured out because the experience prompted me to try my hand outside my comfort zone. Although I feel I’ve shown my writing versatility, I still prefer good old cowboy and Indian sagas.

What is your process from idea to first draft?

Listen and type. I used to just write, write, write, but my internal editor does catch some of the obvious writing issues along the way. As long as my characters are talking, my fingers are busy.

Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer? Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?

I’m a great believer in team playing and I see my peers as my teammates. If we all share what we learn, then we all benefit in the process. My blog and yahoo group have an open door, and I love interacting with other authors. Some of them have inspired me in ways they’ll never know.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

That after ten years, I’m still writing and publishing, and even better, garnering new fans.

If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?

If I won the lottery, I’d definitely donate a portion to help Autism research. My nine-year-old grandson, Spencer, was diagnosed at the age of two, and although he’s making progress, I worry about his future. People can be so unkind.

Lottery aside, I wrote a YA based on how we treat one another, and that’s the book I’m promoting here today. Shortcomings’ tag line says it all…our shortcomings don’t define who we are.

What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?

Listen and learn. Apply what works for you without changing your voice, and above all, believe in yourself.

If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be? What do you admire about this animal? Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal? If so, what are they?

Ohhhh, I am so not an animal lover. Gosh, I can hear the boos from here. I think it stems from loving and losing so many in my life, I’ve found that if I don’t get attached, I don’t have to worry. It’s bad enough to stress over children, and animals become our “kids” if we let them. If you press me to pick one, I suppose I’d pick a gazelle. They’re sleek, fast, elegant, and even their name sounds special. I’m nothing like one, but they possess qualities I wish I had. I’ll probably never survive my father’s first observation of me in high heels… “You look like an elephant on ice picks.”

If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

I’ve already had a fulfilling career, and a taste of a second one. I spent over 23 years working in higher education, and then spent a year working in the field of corrections. I love what I do right now, but if I was twenty years younger, I’d go back and apply to be a correctional officer again. One shouldn’t wait so long they become a “gun-totin” granny. I loved it.

If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

Sadly, money, talent and fear are objects in the path of almost everything. I always wished I had a stellar singing voice, but although I can carry a tune, I can lug it very far. I’m proud to be an author, so I guess I’ve achieved the biggest adventure I’ll ever attempt. Oh, I did parasail once…does that count?

What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?

Compassion, understanding, bravery, tenderness…the same traits my true-life hero has. I think we all pattern our characters with the traits we admire most in life.

If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?

There are two things I’d eradicate immediately…war and the criminal mind. They sort of go hand-in-hand. I think we all want a kinder, gentler world for our children, but I don’t think even God can make that happen without destroying us and starting all over. We all fight for the greater good, but two steps forward means ten steps back. Although I hoped to deliver a message about bullying in my YA release, there have been bullies for as long as history has been recorded, and there will always be. Someone said it best… “misery loves company.”

If could have a super power for a day, what would it be? Why?

I’d like to be invisible. Why? So I can see what my daughter-in-law does all day instead of housework. Lol

Now, a bit about Ginger Simpson's novel, Shortcomings:

Today, I’m promoting my YA, Shortcomings. All royalties received for the upcoming quarter will be combined with those I received last quarter and presented in a donation to Faces of Hope here in Gallatin, TN. Although bullying has been and will continue to be a fact of life, educating individuals about the differences of others is a starting place to help foster understanding. I think this book carries a powerful message, and, so far, my reviewers seem to agree. Here’s the blurb followed by an excerpt:

Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.


Cindy glanced at the clock above the teacher’s head for the hundredth time since taking a seat. Only ten minutes of class remained. Perspiration dampened her hands at the thought of seeing Cory. She wiped her palms on her skirt then quietly slipped her books into her backpack. What in the world had she been thinking when she agreed to meet him?

The second hand tick, tick, ticked, and with each stroke, her heart beat quickened. Her mind tried to assemble her jumbled thoughts into a proper greeting. Nice to see you! Or, Hey, Cory, glad we could get together. She clenched her teeth. Everything sounded so stupid and rehearsed.

The bell announced the end of the period and startled her from her musing. Hoping she hadn't missed anything important the teacher may have said, she hoisted her backpack onto her shoulder and pushed free from the confines of her desk. The moment was here, and she still hadn't decided if she was filled with dread or just nervous anticipation. Her stomach churned, and the taste of bile rose in her throat. “Oh, God, I should have said no,” she muttered on her way into the hall.

Homecoming banners painted in bright colors hung everywhere. She glanced up and grimaced. She’d never heard of spirit week at her old school; they didn’t even have a football team.

Pausing outside the library, Cindy smoothed her hair into place and took a deep breath. She walked through the doorway and scanned the tables for Cory. He wasn't there yet, thank goodness. At least she didn't have to make her entrance limping over to him. She hurried, found a seat, and rifled through her backpack to find her math book, some paper, and a pen. Poised and ready when he entered, Cindy fixed a smile on her face and tilted her head coquettishly to one side. That seemed to be a pose assumed at least once by her favorite romance heroines. She licked her lips and swallowed, trying to find saliva in a mouth as dry as cotton.

She spied him as soon as he came through the door. Her heart hitched. As he neared, Cindy took a deep breath and prayed whatever she said came out semi-intelligently. She tried to look relaxed, but beneath the table, she pressed on her stomach to quell the flippy thing that happened whenever he was near.

“Hi, Cory.” Her voice held a nervous quiver. Being with a boy was totally new ground.

“Hey, been waiting long?” He plopped his backpack on the table.

She looked up at him, trying to maintain her composure. “Uh, no, I just got here. Are you ready to get started?”

“Yeah, I need all the help I can get.”

“Shhh.” Cindy held a finger to her lips. “We’re in the library, remember?”

He grinned and slid into the chair next to her. “Well, where do we begin?” His voice was so low she barely heard him.

Her fingers trembled as she pulled her math book over and opened it. Cory smelled like he'd just walked out of a shower. His nearness distracted her. “I…I guess we’ll start with what we’re studying in class? How are you with equations?’ She softly cleared her throat to quell the quiver in her voice.

“I suck at them.” His brow creased. “Anything to do with math confuses the heck out of me. If only numbers came as easy as playing football.”

Although she hadn't been to an actual game, visions of him in his uniform flashed through her mind. She’d caught a glimpse of him at a noontime pep rally a few days back and struggled not to stare. A smile tugged at her lips, but she sobered quickly, hoping he hadn’t noticed. She didn't want to act all giddy and stupid despite the fact he was a sight to behold in his shoulder pads and tight pants.

The room grew warmer. She lifted the hair from the back of her neck. “Let’s get started.” She felt a tad breathless, and math offered a welcome distraction.

After an hour, Cindy closed the textbook and leaned closer to him. “Do you think that helped at all? You seemed to be a little clearer than when we started.”

“I’m beginning to understand.” He paused, and with a sheepish shrug adjusted his volume. “But I think I need a few more sessions, if you’re willing?”

His request sounded like music to her ears. A few more sessions? She’d spend a lifetime with him if he asked, but she pushed her girlish thoughts aside and nodded at him. “Not a problem. I don’t really have anything else planned, and this sure beats being at home with a bunch of crazy kids.”

A stray, dark curl hung in the middle of his forehead; Cindy had a sudden urge to reach and brush it back but resisted. His nearness stifled her, made her want to act crazy. She scooted away. “So, tomorrow then?”

Cory stood, but she remained seated. There was no way she wanted to display her uneven gait while walking out with him. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked.

“I still have some homework to do. The library doesn't close for another half hour, so I’m gonna stick around a while longer.”

He picked up his backpack and patted her shoulder. “Okay, so I’ll see you tomorrow. I have practice the day after, but on days I don’t, I really need your help.” He slung his book bag over his shoulder and flashed his trademark smile at her.

Her skin warmed beneath his hand—a feeling she wanted to capture and keep forever. “Sure, I…I’ll meet you here at the same time.” What was it about him that made speaking difficult?

Her gaze remained fixed on him as he walked away. His shoulders were broad even without the pads he wore under his uniform, and his jeans fit just right, not sagging in the backside like some of the boys at school. What she wouldn't give to be the girl he asked to the dance.

You can find this book and many of my works at Muse it Up Publishing (

Thank you, Sarah, for allowing me time and space on your blog. You definitely asked some great questions.

It was my pleasure to have you on my blog, Ginger.  Thank you for the compliment about my questions. I wish you great success.