Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't Give Up the Ghost...just yet.

Okay I'm frustrated. I don't know about you but some stories I have to wrestle with, even though I know they're a good premise. I have one that I've been tooling with for literally years. I love my main character, have a great grasp on setting, strong secondary characters, double love interests and yet this damned story won't gel. I hate to give up the ghost on it, I know it's workable, but something keeps escaping me. I think it's called a good plot line. Oh, it has a great plot—making it work logically is the trick.  One of the big problems here is that I don't have the time to devote finessing this story and I am damnably impatient. (I get that from my mom.) I want them all done and I want them done NOW.  I constantly am working on at least two books in my head and I'm kind of learning how to write them both almost at the same time switching between them with major plot points and keeping the odd notes now and then.
Oh yeah, there's that fantasy about two or three desktops or laptops spread across my desk and I've actually seen people who have that setup. Yet I know me and me would probably have Pinterest permanently on one, Facebook on the other, and a pitiful blank page on the original computer. Yes, I'm a pro at procrastination as well.
It's not like I don't have ideas I just can't get to them all at once. I've thought about voice recording them as the story unfolds, but that's just a little creepy and 1970's Dictaphone-ish for me. Think Columbo driving the criminal crazy until he confesses from the sheer pain of annoyance or the Lieutenant figures out it's the Dictaphone that holds the key evidence or clue. I love Columbo, always have, but it's the recording concept that freaks me out. I am by no means the executive type so audio-recording notes is not in my orbit of existence. Sad thing is I used to be an air talent on the radio and made air checks to learn from my mistakes. Still, I doubt I'll ever be recording my stories unless I'm on a non-stop flight to Europe which will happen next month. But then the only thing anyone or me will hear is "Oh God Oh God Oh God" since I am terrified of flying more than pretty much anything on this planet. Go ahead and laugh—it's true. I write about space vehicles zipping between planets with ease—key word here—I write about them, I don't go flying around in them. I guess I figure that if we can finally master interstellar commutes then we should have a good handle on traffic jams in cross-galaxy freeway systems. Hmm, sounds like a new plot forming…
Back to the beginning for that problem of wrestling with that story: one of us is going to come out on top and as of now, it may not be me. Sometimes you do have to give up the ghost, at least for the present. If the story stands up after a time, it's meant to be; if not it's dead in the water anyway. How do you know? I don't know. I only know that I rarely forget a story, written or unwritten and I always open up to give them just one more chance at life even if it's mutated into an entirely different  version of it. Sometimes that's the best resuscitation method. Clear!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Budapest Moon 3 - Theme Rebuilding the Danube

At the end of "The Count's Lair," Budapest Moon, Book 2, Anton defeats the evil wolf, Marcus, and Amelia, pregnant, commits to their relationship. Knowing Budapest Moon Book 3, (Danube in Candlelight) would be about Anton's son, Adam, and Matthias' daughter, Morgan, I had to move the series forward to the 1920's.

After the Austrian-Hungarian Empire lost World War I, it was broken into several smaller countries and Hungary became its own nation. During my research, I learned the Communists took immediate charge of the new Hungarian government. Their policies were not well received. After several months filled with turmoil, the citizens of Hungary rose up, defeated the Communists and reinstated the monarchy. This monarchy would have a constitutional model. Otto Hapsburg was the legitimate heir, but the Hungarians did not want him. Miklós Horthy was invited to be the regent, which he accepted. In 1922, the year in Book 3, the Hungarians had recovered enough to begin the rebuilding of their nation. Knowing this, one of the major themes of the novel was rebuilding. There are two parallel rebuilding themes. One is the rebuilding of the nation as seen through Zoltan and Miklós eyes.

The Dumas and Vargas also have to rebuild, especially when the Duma bookstore burns to the ground and Katherine must rebuild her life.

Adam Varga and Morgan Duma have to rebuild their friendship. Morgan left for England in 1918, before she and Adam had a chance to take their friendship further. Now it's 1922 and Morgan is a woman, eager to see her friendship with Adam grow deeper. Can Adam and Morgan find their way to each other knowing the challenges that are in their way including the legacy of the werewolf that haunts their families?

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

4 Hearts, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews:
Once again, Stephanie Burkhart has touched my imagination and with her writing brings 1922 Hungary to life. Danube in Candlelight is a very romantic, yet spicy read. This is a must read if you enjoy the paranormal werewolf stories or even if you merely enjoy a great romance.

3.5 Stars, The Hope Chest Reviews:
Danube in Candlelight was a pleasant, easy read. Ms. Burkhart has created an interesting world with a mythology that is a little different than any other werewolf stories I've read to date, and the historical settings make them more intriguing to me than many contemporary paranormal stories.

5 Lips, Two Lips Reviews
I found the setting for Danube in Candlelight intriguing. The 1920 period Ms. Burkhart chose for this story lends it a wonderfully dynamic tempo. The discerning reader will not want to miss reading Danube in Candlelight; I highly recommend it.
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, more daring, 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."








Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oh, Sir Luca...

Hey all!  So, I know I should be busy promoting The Future Savior Series and it's wonderful hero, Shaw...Give me a second to drool over Kellan Lutz, who is the perfect Shaw...

Okay now that I've got my drool under control, I want to tell you that Shaw is taking part in a really cool blog tour called Oh, My Hero!  The tour doesn't officially start until Friday, but you can check out Shaw's contribution now (which has more super yummy pictures of Kellan)... and you can enter to win Future Savior Book One: Conception right now!  Follow the link HERE.
All right... now on to the real point of my blog today.  I want to talk about another hero who has totally captured my heart.  Sir Luca Forelli from the River of Time Series.  This wonderful series, written by Lisa T. Bergren, currently has three full novels (Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent) and a short novella called Bourne. A second novella titled Tributary will be released in June and I cannot wait!  Especially since the cover will feature Sir Luca himself...***sigh***
Here is a brief premise for the series:  Gabriella and Evangelia Betarrini are the daughters of Etruscan archeologists. Stuck on a hot, dusty dig site for yet another long, dreary summer—far from the nearest boys—they go exploring. They enter a forbidden tomb and find two handprints among the frescoes. And when they touch them, together, they are catapulted back in time…and into the adventure of their lives.

But honestly, I don't think this summary does this fantastic series justice.  The adventure will have you devouring the pages!  I read all four of these books in less than a week.  If I had one complaint about the River of Time Series it would be that there's just not enough Luca!  He's really the secondary hero... the love of the main heroine's sister... so his page time is minimal until he gets some good spotlight in Bourne.

Sir Luca Forelli (yes he's a knight as in knight in shining armor! ***sigh again!***) is wonderfully funny, witty, and romantic.  Here's just a small sampling of his tantalizing sense of humor.  This snippet comes from Bourne.  There are other super fun scenes I wish I could share with you, but I certainly wouldn't want to give any spoilers of this great series.  Enjoy this lovely bit of Sir Luca and Lia, the girl that he loves.

*   *   *

     "You are free to believe what you wish," I whispered back with a teasing smile, edging away.  "There is no law against such things."  I turned back toward the door, intending to go in, but he held it shut, hovering close.  Deliciously close again.  Teasing me.
      "Evangelia," he said, his lips practically on my ear, his breath tickling my neck.  "How long shall you torment me so?"
      "That remains to be seen," I said, smiling up at him from the corner of my eyes.
      "Ahh, how you wound me! the excruciating...pain," he gasped, pantomiming injury, "of unrequited love."  He stumbled back a step.

*   *   *

Oh, Luca!  He is just so much fun!  I think I love him because he acts exactly how my husband acts.  It's silly, sure, but it's real.  My hubby is every bit the funny, goofy romantic that Luca is... and believe it or not, the picture of Sir Luca resembles my hubby... except for the hair :)  No wonder I'm in love!

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this series!  You will not be disappointed.  Here's some links so you can find Lisa and the River of Time Series:

And don't forget to check out the amazing Shaw from The Future Savior Series on his first ever blog tour!  Remember, you could win your very own Amazon Kindle copy of Future Savior Book One: Conception!  Go to my blog to learn more.

Future Savior Series Facebook (under construction) -!/TheFutureSaviorSeries

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two people, too many secrets. Can love flourish?

ECHOES OF REGRET, Second Book in The Telomere Trilogy

I'm totally in excitement mode this week. My new SFR eBook is now available from Desert Breeze Publishing.

(You hear that? Yes, that's the sound of me sqealing like a girl, but hey I am one so I guess it's okay.)

Lieutenant Fredrica Casales went undercover and behind Captain Noah Bonney's back to help the Imperial Excellencies stop a terrorist plot. Now her Imperial contact, Jace McCree, is coming along in the next leg of the mission, and working with him in person is a bit more challenging.

Fredrica Casales, relieved her participation as an undercover agent for the Imperial Guardians is over, strives to rebuild the trust she's lost with Captain Noah Bonney. But the terrorist plot was only the start of their journey. Now the Daring Star and Lady Victory crews must rescue the scientist who holds the Telomere cure before the very stability of the Galaxy unravels.

If that wasn't enough, Fredrica must work with her former Imperial contact, Jace McCree. As for Jace, he tries to keep a promise he made long ago, but as his sister grows sicker he's conflicted as to what decision he needs to make, and what to reveal.

As they cross the Galaxy, battle rogue Watchers, and fight soul sucking space creatures, both Fredrica and Jace must come to terms with their regrets and decide whether to open their hearts. But fate has its own timeline, and not always at the convenient time.

Jace's trepidation increased as Lady Victory detached from the port's docking bay with Jetta aboard. From the Imperial space station's sky-bridge he observed the Port Launch Unit maneuver the large, squid-like vessel out to open space. Three guiding shuttles worked in unison to push the huge vessel as if it were a marshmallow floating in water. Helpless and adrift at the moment, he was unsure what to do or how to act. From behind him his father, Scott McCree, growled.

"We shouldn't have let her leave, Jace."

Without looking back at him Jace said, "We shouldn't have kept it a secret so long, Father." He turned. "She should have been told when she came of age."

Scott reared on him and clamped his jaw. Jace cocked his chin, to face his father's wrath for what he knew to be the truth. Scott's anger flashed and then settled. He knew the truth himself. The blood rose and then drained out of his face.

"How was I supposed to tell her?" he muttered after moment, the pain clear in his expression.

Jace's memories flashed to the long ago day, barely out of childhood. "It doesn't matter the how. She should've known. Now who knows what will happen or how she'll take it when she finds out." He checked the time. "I have to board Daring Star. Will you be joining the journey?"

"No. It would seem too conspicuous to follow now. How would I explain it?" He touched Jace's upper arm and squeezed. "I'm sorry to have this fall on you. I pray it is not what we think. I will head out to their lands and try to find out what has provoked this change. I'll send you communications as soon as I discover anything."

"I'll protect her as best I can. I'll find a way to tell her when we land on Stratlin."

* * * * *
Purchase Links
Amazon, All Romance, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader and soon to be on Kobo

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Muse

I thought I'd step outside my usual box for this week's blog. I talk the about the meat and bones of what I do a lot. Which is writing. I think? No, it's writing. I even talk about what I write, well mostly I drone on about that, but the point is I talk a good bit about writing, but I can't remember if I've ever talked about being a writer. Sure, we all talk about inspiration, and heaven knows we go on and on about writer's blocks. Believe me. Authors have a lot to say on that subject. It has always seemed funny to me that we can't write the books we're supposed to write, but can do eight part blogs on the subject of not being able to write a single word. We're crazy. We deal with it. You read about it. See how symbiotic our relationship is?

I'm probably breaking a few taboos here, but I want to tell you about what it takes to actually be a writer. If I accidentally reveal something, that puts me under a death warrant, remember me fondly.

So what does it take to be a writer? Talent? Yes. Drive? Yes. Peace and quiet? Yes, but good luck managing that one. A computer helps too. The most important thing you'll need is a bunch of good friends and a supportive spouse. That last one is a must if you're married or involved with a great someone long term.

Why friends? Because, you need people around to tell you that you're great, when you don't believe in yourself. You also need them around to tell you that you aren't as great as you think you are, when you start thinking you are. Sometimes that last one pops up more often than you'd like to think. I'm going to basically focus on this friend thing, because writers know when they have talent and drive. This friend issue is too important to skip over and spout endless clichés that you've probably read a million times before. Before I toss those clichés away, let me pervert one to my uses. It takes a village to write a book. There, hopefully it's out of my system, and we can move forward.

The friends you have when you start out writing might not be around when you're into it awhile. Sad, but true. As much as those friends might have supported your decision to get those great stories out of your head in the beginning, they won't understand why your muse is talking, and you can't just leave it to go shopping at an outlet mall or go catch a movie. Writing totally dominates your life. Your muse dictates when you do things. You don't. You're either writing or thinking about writing. That is again, sad but true. Writing is a solitary thing. Before you got started, you basically live inside your own head. When you first sit down to type, your brain is spilling out all those images that have made you laugh to yourself at odd times. After awhile, you're doing nothing but writing. Sure, you're still going through the motions at work, and at home, but while you're cooking supper or mowing the lawn, your brain just swung off a horse to take the love of its life into its arms. Real life can't compete with that. It doesn't even try. Now, those above friends still love you and call you their friend the writer at all those dinner parties your muse won't let go to. Shame isn't it, and you so love those little cocktail weenies wrapped in bacon.

Onto our second set of friends. The friends you met, either online or off net, before you became a published author. This is your first real taste of camaraderie within the insane writer community. You struggle together. You lift each other up when the rejection hits the inbox. I can personally attest to the fact that these are some of the truest friends you will ever meet. They'll become closer that family and will stick with you through everything. Rejection. Success. Disappointing reviews. Disappointing books, because we all have one we hate. The point is, these beautiful people understand you, like your normal friends never could. I only say normal, because to be an author you have to be so much more than normal. You have to see beyond what is real to create something both real and unbelievable at the same time. Unfortunately, as your career goes on, some of these friends will fade from your radar. Life get's in the way, either theirs or yours. I have lost some friends I thought I couldn't live without, because their lives took a turn, and they had to choose what was important to them to make them happy. Writing ain't easy. It isn't even much fun all the time. Then why do we do it? Because, quite frankly once you get started, you can't stop. It's a disease, a drug and an addiction you can't shake.

Lastly, the friends you meet after being published. These are the friends who truly understand what you're going through. They get deadlines, writer's blocks and just how much of your time is yours now. Very little, in case you were wondering. True, you may misplace one or two, as you get published at multiple houses. For the most part, you can ding them on a messenger window, and they're there pounding away on their computer just like you are. Okay, playing on Facebook or Twitter, but that's all part of being a writer. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Most people don't get that being with a publisher isn't just a bunch of random authors thrown together. We become a family of sorts. We support each other. We pray for each other when someone needs it. We hold each other virtually as the need arises. Like I said, we become a family.

A week or so ago, a friend and I were joking around about this very thing. I said we weren't authors. We were the Sisterhood of the Traveling Muse. I know I'm not a sister, but it still applies. Why traveling muse? Because, none of us can seem to write at the same time. Our muses constantly jump ship and play the tart with any old author who wiggles a bit of chocolate at them. Yes, we're not above petty bribery to get a story flowing. There's a lot of talk about muses with us author types, but that's another blog.

What do all these friends mean to a writer, you may be asking yourself? Even if you weren't, I'm going to tell you. Well, that is the point of this blog. They give you an ever ready support group. If you don't know something you need for a book, someone in your circle probably does. Most of all, they give you love. Hey, being an introverted person is a lonely thing. We can use all the love we can get. Besides, when you walk around talking to yourself all the time, you need people of like minds to talk to. Heaven knows, no one else will give you the time of day. Straight jackets yes. Time of day no.

So the next time you pick up a book, or download one to the reader of your choice, think on the secrets I've revealed, and thank your lucky stars you have friends, that may or may not talk to themselves. Otherwise, we may kidnap you and force you to join our Sisterhood of the Traveling Muse. Really, do you want to see what goes on inside our heads before our editors tame it up for public consumption?

I thought not.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Romancing the Tome

It's all Gail R. Delaney's fault. Not only did she sign me for a futuristic romance, but she actually had the gall to make me stick to the contract I'd signed with her for that romance book! I've never been a big romance writer because I get too carried away with the plot, conflicts, and themes and forget there's supposed to be some romance in the story. I find myself with heroines and heroes who have major problems and weighty baggage to drag around behind them, which can be a good or even great thing if you don't forget what the most important line is in a romance novel: the romance.

Before I was officially signed to Desert Breeze Publishing, I checked out Gail's work and was pretty impressed. She wrote one line that described the hero and heroine gazing at him in perfect yet detailed prose without a lot of flowery description. I still remember one detail that still sticks with me to this day. (If you want to figure it out, buy the book—buy 'em all) It was so simple but so realistic that it created the image she was trying to convey. That to me is the litmus test of an author.

Before everyone claps a hand to their forehead, sighing, "What a suck-up" let me tell you I rarely praise authors and besides I'm not signed to DBP (no Gail, I'm not asking that, LOL) so I'm not getting any recompense for this. I just like to give credit where it's due when I can.

And credit is due Mrs. Delaney. I don't think anyone else could have squeezed a romantic plotline out of me like she did and I imagine if we had an arm wrestling match on the subject of romantic scenes, she'd win easily. She taught me how to ride that romantic rail with logical character traits and made me see the difference between a hero and heroine and a romantic hero and heroine. There is a difference believe me.

So thanks Gail. Thanks for inflicting romance on me. I'll never be the same. Neither will my writing—hell now I've got three WIP novels based mainly on a love story with all the drama relegated to the sidelines!

Thanks loads Gail!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Redeem a "bad" wolf by Stephanie Burkhart

In "The Hungarian" (Budapest Moon, book 1) Count Anton Varga was introduced as a "foil/counterpoint" to Count Matthias Duma. Anton shared the same struggles as Matthias, being made into a werewolf on the same night as Matthias. Anton struggled with containing the more feral/aggressive nature of his soul. He also saw Matthias as a rival in many things, life, money, property, and love, but then something happened.

That something was Lady Amelia Andrassy.

Amelia fainted in the Duma bookstore and Anton caught her. It was a gesture any decent human being would do - catch another while they were falling, yet Anton looked into Amelia's eyes and saw similiar wounds in her heart that he harbored. Amelia was kindred spirit and suddenly Anton had something of his "own." He just needed to figure out a way to reach out to Amelia.

In my "free" prequel, "Moonlight Sonata," Anton determines what he has to do to become the man Amelia needs. In "The Count's Lair" he's set on his course to win Amelia's love. Now, if that doesn't redeem a "bad" wolf, falling in love, I don't know what will.

The Count's Lair is an award winning book:
2011 Reader's Favorite Silver winner in Romance: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

It was also nominated for book of the week with Long & Short Reviews.

Here are some of the reviews for "The Count's Lair:"


"Want a recipe for a great story? Take an awesome writer like Ms. Burkhart, stir in her intimate knowledge of Hungary, her innate ability to create wonderful characters, a book-full of suspense, mystery and passion and you get a book you can’t put down."

Fennel -- Long and Short Reviews
Rating = 5 Books.
Nominated for BOOK OF THE WEEK!


The Count’s Lair is filled with suspense, mystery, passion, and the paranormal. This story is set in the beautiful city of Budapest; the author brings her knowledge of the area to her plot. She describes the history and culture of Budapest... I was cheering for Anton. However, for me the best scene was the last one when Anton gives Amelia her choice. He held her with an open hand."

Reader's Favorite Book Reviews
Rating = 5 Stars


"Burkhart does it again with book two in the Budapest Moon book series, The Count’s Lair. The second book is filled with passion, chock full of paranormal goodness, romance, suspense and mystery... Those who love paranormal romance with a dash of suspense and mystery will fall in love with The Count’s Lair and do not forget to read the first book in the series!"

The Pen and Muse


"This is one of the best werewolf books I have ever read. Stephanie Burkhart gives a great view of the 18th Century Catholic Church and Werewolf relationship, as well as going into more detail about the attributes of werewolves. If you enjoy the Werewolf legends, or just romantic relationships, The Count's Lair is a wonderful read."

5 Hearts
Sizzling Hot Book Reviews


"...The Count's Lair was an agreeable read populated with likable and relatable characters... The Count's Lair is the second book in the Budapest Moon series. I'll be looking forward to the next novel due for release at the end of this year (2012) that will continue with the next generation of Vargas with Anton and Amelia's daughter, Sophia's story."

The Hope Chest Reviews
Rating = 4 Stars


Ralphi Finnes inspiration for "Anton"

Count Anton Varga is haunted by the curse of the moon. It tugs on his emotions, ravishing his soul. Anton abhors the beast he must learn to tame if he is to find peace. 

Lady Amelia Andrássy is an accomplished pianist, but her life in Budapest had been filled with heartache. When Amelia faints in the Duma's bookstore, it's Anton's strong arms that cradle her fall. His unusual indigo eyes spark with hers, replacing their individual loneliness with the promise of feral passion. 

After a two month separation, Anton is ready to walk into Amelia's life again, but is Amelia ready to fan the spark they shared into a flame?


Count Varga looked like a tamed jackal. His hair was wind-tussled, and his overcoat accented his muscled physique. His scarf hung casually over his shoulders, too, as if it were just for show. She was completely disarmed by his full red lips, more vulnerable to his presence than she would have thought. Anton draped the cloak over her shoulders and snapped the front clasp. Sparks of warmth jumped off him, saturating her body. His smoldering sapphire eyes found hers. She adored his attention.

Amy Adams inspiration for "Amelia"

Bryant handed her a pair of gloves, her hat, and her scarf. She hung the scarf around her neck and put on her hat.

"Are you ready?" Anton asked.

She nodded, and he escorted her to his auto. The cold winter air nipped at her cheeks. It was only the first week of December, but Anton hadn't joked about the temperature.

They got in the back seat of his auto, and the driver took off. The auto was warm. Amelia put her gloves in her lap.

"Some people have set up a tent in the middle of the market and are selling goulash and warm apple wine. Do you mind having lunch there? I thought we'd take in the market's ambience."

"Not at all."

"I've missed you." He turned in the seat to look at her.

She smiled. "I've missed you, too."

"Did you get your invitation to the noble's ball?" he asked.

"Yes. I got it today."
"May I escort you?"

"I would like that," she replied. She'd like it a lot. Too much for her own good, but she wasn't prepared to admit that to him just yet. He already had unsettled her. It was exciting to be in the presence of a man so confident and secure. The last few weeks with Mikel, she'd thought he had avoided her because of the success of her piano concerts.











Monday, April 9, 2012

Heroes of the Horde

Hey people!  I've decided to give you a very rare treat today.  A sneak peek at my current work in progress.  I'm about 2/3 of the way done, but I wanted to share a glimpse with you.  Please remember this is a very rough draft so ignore any major errors!  But I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!  Here's some info on it:

Working title:  Heroes of the Horde

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy

Six mismatched students at Deacon Proprietary School are about to discover the demonic legend of their school's origin is actually true.   Not only have they obtained amazing powers, but they've also unleashed the demonic Horde.  Now it's up to these six high school freshmen to stop the Horde before its evil spreads throughout the school and beyond.

Scene:  The excerpt I'm about to give you is right when the kids start to realize they've received these amazing powers.  The two kids in this scene are twins. The boys name is Mike and his sister is Shelly. Mike gets the power of levitation (although he doesn't realize it yet) and Shelly... well, you'll see! Enjoy!


He walked back through the bathroom and opened the door to his sister's room.  Shelly was sitting cross-legged on the floor with several school books spread out in front of her.  Even though she had a perfectly good desk three feet away, Shelly liked to sprawl out on the floor to do her homework.  It was just one of the little quarks his sister had that made him smile.
Mike replayed the dunk in his mind one last time in preparation to tell his sister.  This was something he had been trying to do for quite a while now and he wanted to tell the story just right.  I dunked the ball!  It was amazing!
"You'll never guess what I did today," he said enthusiastically. His grin practically reached from ear to ear.
"You slam dunked the basketball." Her statement was so matter-of-fact it caught Mike a little off guard.
"How did you know that?" he demanded.
"I don't know.  It just sort of popped into my head and I knew that's what you were gonna say."  Shelly looked up from her books.  With a furrowed brow and a frown, her face looked perplexed and Mike had to admit he too felt slightly dumbfounded.
"Huh… that's weird.  But Shells you should have seen it.  It was awesome!  It felt like flying.  Everybody at practice was shocked.  Maybe, after dinner, we could run outside to the hoop and I could show you."
"We've got Trick-or-Treaters tonight," Shelly reminded him.
"Oh yeah," Mike frowned momentarily but then he had a great revelation.  Now that Shelly's home maybe she'll make dinner and I won't have to make the Tuna Helper.  "Hey Shells, now that you're home why don't—"
"I make dinner instead of you," Shelly said cutting him off and finishing his sentence.
"Yeah, I was just gonna make some—"
"Tuna Helper."
"Why are you doing that?" he asked indignantly.
"Finishing all of my sentences."
"Why?  Were you really planning on making Tuna Helper?" she asked.  Her voice sounded pretty baffled, which matched the way Mike felt.  How is she finishing my sentences so easily?
"Yeah.  Didn't you see the box sitting on the kitchen counter?"
"No.  I came straight upstairs.  I didn't go through the kitchen." Shelly shifted her position on the floor and Mike felt uneasy. This was odd.
"So how did you know?"  His brow creased with concern.
"I don't know.  I just knew you were thinking 'Tuna Helper'.  Pretty weird huh?" Shelly's voice shifted from baffled to worry.  Mike felt pretty worried too.  It certainly did seem weird, but he always felt the need to protect his sister, even from something as simple was worrying over Tuna Helper so he tried to placate the situation.
"Ah… don't worry about it," Mike said flashing his ever contagious grin.  He didn't want his sister to be upset.  "It's probably just some weird freaky twin thing.  This certainly isn't the first time we finished each other's sentences."
"I guess you're right."  As she moved to put her school work away, Mike watched her hair fall in front of her face.  Why does she hide behind her hair all the time, Mike wondered.
"I don't hide behind my hair all the time." Shelly declared sounding affronted.
"What?" Mike exclaimed shaking his head and taking a measured step back.  How in the world did she know what I'm thinking?
"You just said that I hide behind my hair, but I don't hide behind my hair."
"Shelly, I didn't say that."
"Yes you did!  I heard you as clear as day."
"I promise, I didn't say it out loud.  I thought it, in my head, but I didn't actually say it."  Mike was scared.  This was going beyond weird-freaky- twin-thing and moving into just straight up crazy.  He knew he didn't actually say the words.  He was certain he only thought them.
"Come on Mike!  Stop fooling around!  I heard you say it and now you're messing with me!"  Her voice genuinely sounded scared.  In fact, her voice matched the way Mike was feeling right now.  She got up from her spot on the floor and faced him. Arms folded across her chest and a serious look in her eyes.
"Okay Shells, okay.  Let's calm down."    Once she was sitting he continued, trying to ignore the look of pure hatred she was shooting at him, "I'm telling you, Shells, I thought it in my mind.  I didn't actually say the words."
She narrowed her eyes at him in total disbelief.
"Let's try something," Mike suggested trying to offer her his best smile, but he knew it was a feeble attempt. This whole situation had him genuinely worried.  "I'm gonna think of something totally random and you tell me what it is."
"You're joking, right?"  Her eyes narrowed even more and she chewed on her bottom lip.
"No I'm totally serious."  He cast his gaze around the room for a quick moment.  Ugh, there's nothing random enough in here to work.  Hmm… there's Shelly's old purple Teddy Bear, but that kinda obvious.  What about a purple truck.  Yeah, she'll never guess a purple truck.
"Purple truck," Shelly said in a frightening monotone.
Mike could feel his eyes widen as he stared at his sister.  She was reading his mind.

Remember, I want your thoughts so please feel free to comment!  Also, please feel free to harass me at the following locations:

Twitter:  @JenniferLHartz

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


What inspires you?

Not what inspired you, but what inspires you?

For me, HG Wells and Isaac Asimov inspired me to become a writer, but they don't continue to drive my passion for the art. *SNORTS* Look at that, I wrote "art". Fancy-spancy or what, huh?

I could go all Hollywood Award Show and claim that the readers inspire me, my family inspires me, or whatnot...but that would be blatant, cocky-yet-hopeful boasting. At least coming from my mouth. Though, it would be awesome to put on a way-too-expensive dress, get my make-up done. Maybe even get tipsy, blurt out during one of the speeches, and have security escort me away...

Nah, I'd trip and tear the dress we all know I didn't/couldn't pay for, I'd rub my eye and ruin my mascara, and I don't usually drink, so would be impelled to be polite. Oh well. Fun thought an all, but just a thought.

No, the readers humble me by thinking I'm worth their hard-earned cash. My family is my support system, not to mention keeps me sane enough to stay out of a straightjacket.

What inspires me is this driving need to bring to life these visions in my head somehow. So many cool things happen in it, and just like how I point out a pretty hill on our way to the beach, I want to show everyone the amazing drama playing in my neurons.

And I want to remember it happened to, because like so many other thoughts or daydreams, they don't always stay. And when they do hang around, it's never as pure and true as the initial moment.

Total example - and excerpt - here. In Echoes of Regret, the main male character is scouting a drifting vessel for signs of life. I dreamed this scene of the group walking through the hallways. When I woke up, I couldn't wait to tell people and write it down.

Echoes of Regret doesn't come out for another couple weeks, but I'm going to share that scene here today because I'm not patient enough to wait.

Jace took a moment to peer down the darkened hallway to the left, and then fell into the rear position. They cleared each room, closed and initiated a room lockdown, and then moved on to the next. Brenda and Colt walked next to each other, eyeing each open door along the way. Empty. No apparent damage. No signs of a fight or struggle, or even natural signs such as fire or burn suppressant.

Everything appeared in its place, just empty. Jace shuddered and fought off the need to keep checking the darkened hallways behind them. Not only was there an empty feeling in the vessel, Jace shivered at the sense of desolation. Whatever had happened here, life had been stripped.

Colt paused at another room. A small staff lounge with food unit, cooking station, and tables with built-in seating. Two trays were still on the table, the food half-eaten. Colt stepped in with Brenda following. Matthew retraced his steps and went in. Jace followed.

"Very strange." Colt touched the food then laughed. "I almost expected it to be warm." He blushed. "Stupid, I know."

"No." Brenda said. "Me, too. It's as if everyone disappeared. Every room has works in progress, activities in the middle of process. Very unusual for sure."

"Well, the food's not going to tell us what happened. Let's move." Matthew turned back and out, then locked it down and moved on.

Jace followed the doctors and took two steps when a shadow the way they'd come caught his attention. He turned and flashed his light. Nothing. They'd closed all the doors which had been open as they checked them, so nothing could've hidden anywhere without them hearing the sliding mechanisms. His heart skipped and lodged in his throat. He didn't want to turn his back on whatever he'd thought he'd seen, even as he knew he couldn't have seen anything.

"You coming?" Matthew asked from a short distance.

"Yeah." Jace hurried to join them.

They continued their progress to the main bulk of the vessel. A soft distant melody whispered in his ear. He closed his eyes, took a breath, and continued walking. The melody continued, sounding distant yet never fading away or growing nearer. It was beautiful, light and high in tone. Feminine. Mysterious. Yet comforting. Ahead of him a few steps, both Colt and Brenda gave no indication of hearing anything. Further ahead, Matthew continued on as normal.

The melody died away long enough for a faint voice. "Come."

Tantalizing. The voice beckoning with no further words. Only the call of the melody. Jace slowed. Brenda and Colt continued, talking about their profession and didn't notice he'd broken off from them. He peered into the hallway again.

"Come to me." The whispered words wove throughout the quiet song.

* * * * *

Well, I hoped you all liked the excerpt.

So, what inspires your passions, whether it be writing or something else?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bite my Love Bites Stake

Bite Me!

Strange way to kick off a blog, but in my case it fits. May marks the release of the sixth book in my Vampire series or the first book in my second Vampire series of the same characters. If any of that makes any sense, which I don't think it does. Let me rewind this a few years and maybe it will. Probably won't but we can hope. In any case, we're going to call this April Showers bring May Vampires.

Let's go all the way back to the beginning of 2008. I was at wits end. Really. I was at that point all authors reach, where we are this close to chucking the whole thing and try being normal. A very good friend, who might or might not wish to remain anonymous, told me a publisher was having an open submission for something funny. I'm funny. Okay, I'm weird, but I can be funny on occasion. In a different window, because all authors talk in windows to hide the fact we were nothing but sleep pants and fuzzy slippers, another friend and I was talking about vampires. No reason, it's just another thing romance writers seem to do. Anyway, like any good Reese Cup, I decided to shove funny, vampires and romance together. This is what I came up with "Madam, do you realize you've just shoved a stake into my heart." Or, something like that.

And, I was off. My rocker and writing, a bad combination on any day of the week. So, with no plan, no plot, I started a 20k short story with the title Love at First Stake. Two weeks later it was done, semi-edited and emailed to the appropriate email address. I regretted it instantly. I've talked about this before, so won't bore you with the long version. They rejected it. I subbed it to DBP and Gail asked some probing questions that quite frankly made me nervous, so to change the subject I blurted out, 'It's a series!'.

The whole point of that flashback is that I had no idea at the time what I wanted out of my comical slayers and humorously stoic vampires. Since I'd blurted out series like it was the word fromage or something, I had to come up with something maybe not exactly brilliant but original. That came after book two, Love to Stake Another Day, had been finished. During book three, I saw the subplot behind the plot of the first two books clearer. I hastily made copious notes about what was really going on in this world I'd let loose from my mind. Books three through five, were actually plotted and written with something bigger in mind. Now, books one and two, just kind of already knew what was going on, but didn't let me know until Love Free, Stake Hard. Authors are always the last to know. I managed to write a short story in-between books three and four to tie together the whole thing. Even while writing book four, Lovers of the Lost Stake, I began to see the interworkings of my second five book arc taking shape. By the time I wrapped up Lovership of the Stake, I knew what the future had in store for our band of characters. None of it good.

Now, I sit here a few weeks away from the release of the first book in the Bite Marks arc, and know some of you are asking why change the name of the series? Because the second arc isn't in the same vein as Love Bites. It's still going to be funny, but it's also darker. At the end of Lovership, the lives of our characters were forever changed. They weren't in the same place as they were when Love at First Stake took place. That meant to me, we needed to have some separation between them. Something to let the reader know, here's book two in five parts. When I wrap up the second arc, the third will have a new running title. Not sure what that is yet, but there will be one. Just to tease, I already know what will happen in each book and most of what will happen in the unnamed third arc. Will there be a fourth? I don't think so. I don't see a story past that fifteenth book. Then again, there is nine books left to go, so who knows?

Okay, here's the point of this blog. All that stuff up there is more than a brief history of a romantic paranormal series. It's the evolution of a pantster into an author that actually works from an outline and plots books. If back in 2008 you'd have told me I would be doing that, I'd have called you crazy. Now, I see that working without those two things made me a so-so writer. That's a hard fact you can only learn from writing. In the beginning, you think you know how to write. Writing teaches you to write. Okay, editors refine your ability to write. With their gentle prodding you learn things that should have been evident to begin with.

So, I guess when you get right down to it, you have Gail to blame for all this. Thank. Blame. You get the idea. I ask you all to take it easy on her. Beating things into my thick skull isn't as simple as it sounds. I have the comma scars to prove it. Mmmm… You know. They look exactly like little fang marks, now that I think of it. OMG! Gail's a Vampire!

On that note, I'm out of here. I've got holy water, garlic and crucifixes to buy. I knew editors were blood thirsting. I just didn't know they were bloodthirsty!