Steph Burkhart Steps into the Bloglight!

Hello everyone, 

Hope today finds you all well and revving up to deal with the day-to-day! We’ve got a visit from paranormal romance author Steph Burkhart!

STEPH: First, I’d like to thank Joanna for having me here today. I’ve been in my writing cave all summer, slaving over my projects and I’ve just now found some time to peep out. Feels good to have a little autumn chill on my cheeks. I love blogging and hanging out on the web. You can find me at: http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

JOANNA: What do you love best about writing?

STEPH: Writing stimulates my creativity and imagination. I enjoy researching different settings and topics. Writing is like taking an adventure without ever having to leave your seat.

JOANNA: What got you started writing?

STEPH: I remember growing up as a young girl in the 1970’s and watching a show called The Electric Company. I loved the Spiderman skit. After watching the show, I went to the kitchen table and would draw comic books of the skits. My passion for writing evolved from that.

JOANNA: Where do you get story and character ideas?

STEPH: Believe it or not, NOT from dreams. I’m a very heavy sleeper since I don’t get much, and rarely do I remember my dreams. Most of my characters and stories start with a broad concept. For “Victorian Scoundrel,” my steampunk romance, my broad concept was: heroine travels through time to stop her mischief making cousin from changing the time line. From there I built on that, creating Alice and Edmund Windsor, my royals from the future. Then I did research on Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, the Great Exhibition, Sir John Russell, and dirigibles. Since this was a steampunk I crafted several “fun” gadgets such as transmogrifiers, datamancers, and whuzzies. Alice needed a hero so enter Earl Swinton, Grayson Kentfield, the Prime Minister’s friend. The research was fun and allowed me to tap into my imagination. Then it was time to character build. Using bios, I fleshed out my characters, even casting them like the book was a movie.

This process usually takes 1-2 to weeks for me to flesh out before I can start writing.

JOANNA: Wow. I think I need a glossary to make sense of all the terms. I’m also impressed with your process at crafting the characters. Now, please tell our readers how you juggle, work, and being a mom.

STEPH: This is a balancing act, trust me. I am a 911 dispatcher for LAPD and I work from2 pmto10 pm. When I’m writing, the bulk of my writing is done at work during my down time, putting pen to paper. This way when I get home, all I do is type. After I get the boys off to school, I’ve got the morning to myself. I usually do my promo during that time, visiting Twitter, Facebook, and my Yahoo Groups. After that, I type. Then its off to work to write some more. The evenings are usually dedicated to the kids on my off days.

JOANNA: Talk about current, past, and future projects and upcoming releases.

STEPH: I love the romance genre because romance speaks to hope and love which are very uplifting topics. That said, I enjoy writing paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk. I also have a children’s book out called “The Giving Meadow.” I’m attracted to vintage romance as well, but while I love reading historicals, I find them quite daunting to write.

  In FEB 2011, my paranormal romance, The Count’s Lair, was released. (The novel is Book2 inmy Budapest Moon series.) Set in Budapest, Hungary, Count Anton Varga has a secret – he’s a werewolf. He’s also attracted to the beautiful and talented pianist, Lady Amelia Andrassy. Can Amelia accept him for what he is? There’s plenty of werewolves and witches in the story andBudapestserves as an exotic and believable setting for the story.

Releasing in NOV 2011, is Book 3 of the Budapest Moon Series, “Danubein Candlelight.” It’s set inBudapest, 1922 just after the end of World War I. Morgan Duma is returning home after a stay inEnglandand is reunited with her childhood friend, Adam Varga. When friendship turns to love, the couple’s resolve is tested when Morgan is transformed into a werewolf.

Releasing in DEC 2011 is my contemporary romantic suspense, “The Faberge Secret.” Elise Goodwin runs a heritage museum inBrattleboro,Vermont. When she finds a rare Faberge Egg, its up to Russian businessman Dimitri Romanov to keep her safe from his rival.

Let me share an excerpt with you from my latest release, Victorian Scoundrel.

BLURB: When Alice travels back in time to keep her cousin, Edmund, out of trouble, she has no idea the mischief she’s in for!

Check out my BOOK TEASER ON YOU TUBE 🙂

Buy on AMAZON KINDLEALL ROMANCE EBOOKSBARNES & NOBLE (NOOK BOOK)

REVIEWS: 5 Stars, Readers Favorites, Molly E:

I have never read a Steam Punk novel before, but because of (Steph Burkhart’s) fantastic writing, her engaging plot line, and fun loving characters, it will NOT be the last. I highly recommend this with highest of 5 stars, and I can’t wait until the second Windsor Diaries installment releases!

5 Stars, Tami Dee, Author of the Mists of Time Series: Stephanie Burkhart has a fresh, quick, quirky, inventive imagination and she gives the readers of Victorian Scoundrel a delightful mixture of all of the above!

Pen & The Muse, Barbara: A wonderful historical, paranormal steampunk read this was. This new series is going to be a big hit.  She has me hooked.  This is a must read.

  EXCERPT: Grayson escorted her to a door on the right, threw it open, and put his hand on her waist, guiding her inside. A gas lamp burned on a nearby table, throwing stark, deep shadows into the room.

Her determined man shut the door and pinned her against it. He plucked her glasses from her face and threw them onto the table with the gas lamp. Then he pinned her against the door, placing his hands on the door next to her arms. His breathing was erratic. The light from the lamp cast dark shadows over his chiseled features.

“Gray–”

He stepped closer and lowered his hands, placing one on her waist. Heat spiked within her and settled low in her abdomen. His hazel eyes burned with desire. He drew in a deep breath and raised his forefinger, tracing her lips.Alice closed her eyes, but only briefly, savoring the gentle touch of his finger.

“You do wild things to my heart, sweet Alice,” he finally whispered. His finger traced her cheeks, then her jaw.

She grew hot, yearning for more. Her senses spun from his sensual touch. She could hardly breathe. “Me?”

“Yes, you.”

“What do I do to your heart?”

“You make it beat hard — fast.” He ran his finger down the side of her neck and traced the ‘v’ in her throat.

Alice met the raging inferno in his eyes and nipped at her lower lip with her teeth. “Is that all I do?”

He issued a low, deep groan from his throat and leaned forward. Their lips searched for each other, teasing, until finally they meshed into a heat-searing kiss.

Alice completely lost her head. His lips were hard, firm, staking his claim. His hands went to her waist as his long, lean body pressed against her. She placed her hands on his shoulders and glided her fingertips around the nape of his neck. She wanted this man. Etiquette and propriety be damned. Victorian values wafted to the floor. She wanted to feel every inch of him that she could. His lips trailed over her jaw, kissing the side of her neck.

“Oh, Gray…” she moaned, her flesh now highly sensitized to his touch.

She had never been kissed like this.

He lifted his head; his mouth overtook hers once again. Her stomach fluttered. If it wasn’t for him leaning into her, giving her support, her knees would have buckled. Need. Want. Desire. They pulsed through her.

His tongue teased her lips, coaxing her to receive him. She gave in.

Their tongues mingled, exploring, tempting, teasing. Raging flames consumed her body. There was only Grayson and her. Here. Now.

Grayson broke free, gasping for breath, as did Alice. His hands cupped her face. “I have to stop.”

“All… all right.”

His thumbs stroked her jaw. “You fascinate me, Alice.”

A deep smile graced her lips. “Completely?”

“Totally.”

“You kiss like a demon possessed, Grayson.”

Find me on the web at: my WEBSITE; BLOG; TWITTER; FACEBOOK FAN PAGE and GOODREADS!

Awesome excerpt, Steph! Have to clear my head long enough to take this moment and thank you up front for your invitation to your ‘football season’ blogs. I’ll be visiting with Steph and talking pigskin-related stuff on October 9th! Looking forward to it!

As always I thank all of you who took the time to stop in!

Until next time,

Joanna

Prolific Author Alert: Sarah McNeal is Here!

Good day, friends!

Hope all is well in everyone’s world today. Please extend a warm welcome to paranormal romance author Sarah J. McNeal! 

So glad to have you here, Sarah! Start us off:

What do love best about writing?

I love the creative process.  Hanging out at restaurants and the library listening to other people’s conversations and jotting down notes in my writer’s journal makes me feel like a mystery sloth.  I love when an epiphany presses the happy buzzer in my mind and helps me pull together the story I’m working on.  Shoot, I love everything about writing including the smell of pencils and the sight of stacks of notebook paper.  I love to settle down at my computer and transfer my handwritten text onto the screen.

What do you like least?

I almost hate to say it—promotion of my work.  I hate going around begging readers to check out my blogs and visit my website.  I feel like I’m on a street corner with a tin cup of pencils to sell.

What got you started?

March 18, 1947, I took a breath and, with it, came my imagination and the desire to share it.  I made up songs when I was three years old and told “adventure stories” by the time I was four.  I wrote my first story when I was nine.  The longing to share my stories has always been inside me.

What keeps you writing? 

It is my joy and aspiration to write—and then write even better.  It’s not something I control as much as it’s something that is basic element of myself.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life? 

After I published my first book, everything changed including my belief in myself.  Until then, I saw my career as nursing.  Nursing was the career my father chose for me.  Because he was a Great Depression survivor, he wanted me to choose a practical career that would not be dependant on the economy—and, believe me, it wasn’t.  I have never been without a job.  So, I have gratitude in that respect.  But the deep yearning to become a published writer had finally been fulfilled with the publication of my first book.  I planned to retire from nursing the first chance I got so that I could devote myself to my first love—writing.  After a few years of saving and planning, I took an early retirement. Even in the face of a declining economy, I have never regretted it, never looked back.

(Oh to retire early…what a joy…)

Where do you get story and character ideas?

Mostly from the world around me.  I keep a writer’s journal with me everywhere I go and jot down tidbits of things I see and hear.  I wrote Bitter Notes based on a real life event.  Someone threw their baby grand piano out in the front yard and let it rot in the elements. Every day I passed it as it fell into pieces of rotted wood and despaired over it.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  I felt driven to write its story.

I was fooling around one day playing my harmonica with my feet propped up on my Grandfather McNeal’s trunk and it made me think about the things in that trunk and what they were like when they were new.  That’s how I found my inspiration for Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride.  All of my stories started with something that crossed my life’s path.  When all else fails, I play the “What If” game.

For those who write across cultural lines, how do you market or generate a mainstream, typical reader’s interest in your books?

Generating interest from any reader I believe begins with producing the best story I can write.  Good writing speaks to readers more than anything else.  I don’t write cross-culture stories unless you count fantasy cultures—not yet anyway but, if I did, I would give it my all.

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

Bitter Notes is a novella published by Amira Press.  Logline: An abandoned piano heals a broken heart.

The Violin is a story about a member of my family that died too young.  I brought John back from the brink and gave him a life in this book from my heart.  Although currently in re-edits, it is contracted by Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery for its second edition. Logline: Timeless love brought together by a violin.

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride is my latest release. (Logline: A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny. Below are the blurb and an excerpt.

I am presently working on the sequel based on a secondary character that I fell in love withBanjo (Logline: Deceit stands between a man’s love and his destiny.)

For those who don’t know me, they can get a couple of my free stories; download them at my website or from Amira Press.

*** For more of Sarah’s very intriguing titles click here.***

Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home,’ as a patient aptly asked me many years ago J), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

I used to have a very difficult time dragging myself away from my writing to go to work in the ER and then I finally decided to take an early retirement after I sold my first novel.  No regrets.  I do however, make time for my family.  As much as I love writing, my friends and family do come first and I make time for them whenever I need to.  It’s easy to get so caught up in writing that it takes over my life so I do have to force myself to come out of my writer’s cave from time to time and become a social being.  My sister never gets this about me.  Traveling and enjoying theater and other people are her main enjoyments so it’s hard for her to understand that writers are accustomed to being alone.

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

1.  The number one thing a writer needs for promotion is to produce the best story they are capable of writing.  Quality writing counts more than any other thing.

2.  I do not like to go into readers’ groups and post blurbs and excerpts then take off.  I like to interact with the readers and authors on the loops.  I have a banner that tells about my books and directs them to my website.  I don’t need to hammer it down their throats every single day.  I think authors who do that, risk losing the interest of readers.  They just grow numb to the constant barrage of “look at my books.”  I’m sure that some may disagree with that point of view but that has been my experience. I think interacting with readers and other authors and always remembering to be polite, answer questions and say thank you when someone compliments me.

3.  Blogging I find is a very effective way to present myself and my work to others.  When people read about the things that concern or interest me, I think they can often relate to me better.  It’s a way of getting readers to know me and where my heart lies.  I am a person first and then I’m a writer.

    (Love this cover! Gorgeous!) 

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

Blurb: Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?

Excerpt:  Harmonica music floated down from the attic—the last place in this tumble down wreck of a house Lola Barton wanted to go.  Had someone or something taken up residence there?  Lola made her way up the darkened attic stairs measuring each step as the ancient boards creaked in protest under her feet.  Her flashlight beamed a narrow circle of light illuminating the cobweb-covered door at the top of the landing.  Her heart raced and pulsed in her ears.  Hands trembled with the surge of adrenaline as she pressed forward.  She ignored her inner voice that warned, “Don’t go!”

Her cynical mind told her the rumors that Misty Oaks Plantation had ghosts weren’t true.  The tales of murder and betrayal had to be the overactive imagination of the local townspeople.  A homeless vagrant had to be the most logical explanation for the disturbance.

Once she gained the landing, she blew the cobwebs from the door and leaned her ear against it to listen for any movement on the other side.  Wisps of harmonica music lifted in the air.  Perhaps someone left a harmonica lying around and the wind blew hard enough through the cracks in the walls to make it sound as though someone played the instrument.  Just the wind.  No ghost.

With her courage bolstered by her logical conclusion, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it.

BUY LINKS:

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

By Sarah McNeal

ISBN: 978-1461087731 1461087732

Available at:

Western Trail Blazer Novels

Amazon.com

Lulu Book Store:

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Available in print, too!

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your author’s journey with us! I’m always in awe of authors who can take ideas and see them to so many complete stories. Best wishes and may you continue to experience the joy of creating!

Have a wonderful day, folks!

Joanna