Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grammar Guru - Happy Halloweeen Bloopers!

In the spirit of the holiday, Grammar Guru is bringing you three bloopers with full credit to the contributors!

Does anybody remember the old dictaphone? Yeah, I know, the Guru is dating herself. Well, imagine this mechanical howler courtesy of transcription. Instead of, "Without wishing to create a precedent," we get, "Without wishing to create a president." Thanks, Kate Hofman!

Here's another one from Kate the Great and an automatic translating program:
English: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Russian: "The liquor is eager, but the meat is spoiled."
Well, it's Russian. You know vodka had to get into it somewhere.

And finally this classic blooper from Rebecca Vickery, Southern cook extraordinaire, and her SpellCheck program."
When Rebecca wrote, "red-eye gravy," SpellCheck corrected it to "overnight flight gravy."

That's it for the mischief. Now Guru is heading out to the pasture, where someone thought it was funny to take the gate off its hinges and leave it leaning sideways into the pasture. The horse is giving it meaningful looks. After all, the grass is always greener...

Happy Halloween, everyone! Feel free to leave your own bloopers in the comments section and I'll share them in a future post. If you want to be entered in for a drawing for one of our book giveaways, leave your email addy, too!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! The Pen & Muse wishes you a safe trick or treating and lots of scary fun!


Friday, October 30, 2009

The Pen Review: Through the Fire

Through the fire.jpg

Through the Fire by Beth Trissel

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Wild Rose Press


At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent––or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.


What I liked: Beth Trissel is one of my favorite authors. How perchance did I get to read her work? It was through a contest and ever since then I knew that she was something special. Through the Fire is no exception! This lovely tale will embark any reader on a journey to when differences of culture divided us and a time when America was the place of expansion and dreams. From the plot to the characters, everything was well written. I felt that I was on the journey with Rebecca and her sister as they try to reach their uncle on the treacherous journey across the mountains. What will happen next? You will just have to read the book!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Books Still Needed to Be Given Away!


Want to win a book? Print or Ebook? Just comment on our blog postings and see if you win! Be sure to tell your friends and pass our blog along!

Books donated by Myself

Magickal Mermaids by D.J. Conway

FaeFever by Karen Marie Moning

DarkFever by Karen Marie Moning

Pathways to the Spirit by Susan Santucci

Grania by Morgan LLywelyn

Books donated by Miriam

hard cover - Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

paperback - An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James

Tempting The Prince by Patricia Grasso

Suddenly One Summer by Barbara Freethy

Rescue Me by Christy Reecebrbr

Death Angel by Linda Howard

Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear

Too Good to be True by Kristan Higgins

Don't Bargain With The Devil by Sabrina Jeffries

Before The Scandal by Suzanne Enoch

Ebook- Scion by Miriam Newman

Donated by Minette

The Centurion & The Queen by Minette Meador
The Edge of Honor by Minette Meador

Sandy James

Sandy James has also has agreed to give us an ebook of hers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fang-tastic Books: Helpful Hints for Becoming a Vampire from Susan Blexrud

While we're all gearing up for our weekend hauntings, I posted some helpful hints for how you, dear reader, can join forces with an undead hottie. If you have any ideas to share, please let me know, and I'll add them to the list. Thanks!

Fang-tastic Books: Helpful Hints for Becoming a Vampire from Susan Blexrud

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grammar Guru

OK, nobody asked for this one. It's all my own idea, inspired by seeing the misuse of lose/loose just one too many times on a rainy know, the kind of day when small things grate on you because there's nothing else to do! Dangerous stuff for us editor-types. (Yes, I know it is an incomplete sentence.)

Assuming the author in question didn't have a typo problem--in which case I send condolences, because I have one and it's a doozie--here are some definitions of lose and loose:

Lose: to misplace or bring to destruction, miss from one's possession or suffer deprivation. To suffer a loss. To fail to keep control. To fail to use. To fail to win, gain or obtain. To fail to catch with the senses of the mind. To miss one's way or bearings. To make oneself withdrawn from reality. To go astray. To draw away from or fail to keep in sight or in mind.

Wow! Who knew? But in sum total, "lose" is about loss. Lose=loss.

Loose: To work partly free. Not rigidly fastened or attached. To free from confinement. Not tight-fitting. Not brought together in a bundle. Not tightly drawn. Having a flexible and relaxed character.

Not one definition under "loose" has anything to do with loss. Loose=free.

So if you are worried that your heroine might "loose" the hero if she does such-and-such, remember that lose equals loss. You don't have to "loose" him unless you have him tied up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Pen Review: Damnation Books!

I am pleased and proud to announce Damnation Books. A big thank you to Kim Richards Gilchrist for allowing me to review for her new book company. It's been a pleasure working with you. Prepared to be thrilled and scared!

If you'd like to join Damnation Books Yahoo group, please go to:

Welcome Damnation Books to The Pen & Muse Blog! Hears to your success!


By Yolanda Sfetsos


Publisher: Damnation Books


Alyce Kerr is a celebrity Faith Healer. Her power comes from a binding with a demonic entity. Every time he gives her the power to heal, he sucks a little more of her soul into him. But now her ex, Ross, is in town. He's been watching from the shadows and Alyce is finding it harder to ignore him... even if he did try to kill her three years earlier. Could Ross be the answer to ending her connection to the demon killing her inside?


What I liked: I really enjoyed reading about Alyce and her problem with the demon and her past. You can really feel the emotion and you can tell that Yolanda has a story telling gift. A definite thriller from start to finish. This is a book not to miss!


By Geoff Chaucer


Publisher: Damnation Books



The Emperor finds a certain concubine very pleasing. She studies with an old hetaera to make herself yet more pleasing but soon discovers that the old woman is actually in the employ of the Empress and has something other that the sexual pleasure of the Emperor in mind.


What I liked: A very intricate and interesting tale about a time long ago. Chaucer definitely did his homework and it shows. The characters and the emotions just like they would have felt them in that era. It's like getting into the Forbidden City with a dark twist!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grammar Guru

At Kate Hofman's request, today I'm going to try to give a good, not-too-technical explanation of the uses of there, their and they're.

Ex: Turn there to go to the mall. (direction)
I put it there. (place)
There shall come a time... (function to introduce a clause)

Ex.: It's their money. (they possess the money)

"To contract" means to shorten. "They're" is the shortened version of "they are."
Whenever you see the apostrophe in a word such as "they're," it is a contraction.
If you are uncertain whether this word is correct in your sentence, READ IT ALOUD,
using the words "they are." Your ear will tell you immediately if it is right.
Ex: Turn they are to go to the mall. WRONG
It's they are money. WRONG
They are going to turn there to go to the mall to spend their money. RIGHT
Now, contract "they are" to "they're."
They're going to turn there to go to the mall to spend their money. RIGHT

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lighthouses & Romance

I just want to thanks Miriam and Denisse for having me today at The Pen & The Muse. I thought I'd pop in and talk a little about lighthouses. I grew up near water and while I didn't explore very many lighthouses as a young girl, I have been to a few.
For me, I've always been attracted to the sea. Growing up in Manchester, NH, I was only an hour west of the Atlantic Ocean. Going to Hampton Beach and playing in the surf are happy childhood memories for me. It wasn't until I was an adult though that I discovered lighthouses.
Lighthouses have a silent, romantic quality to me. They stand sturdy, lighting the way on the blacked nights and the roughest storms. They were a shining beacon of hope to travelers who passed by.

Lighthouses dot both our coasts and several of our lakes. I visited my 1st lighthouse in York, Maine when I was a young adult and was impressed by it's quiet strength and rich history.
Today, my husband and I have several lighthouses pictures and motifs in our home to remind us of our love for the sea.

Moving on to my old home...

While NH has the smallest coastline in the U.S. (only 9 miles) it has several lighthouses that embody the romance of the sea. White Island, one of the NH Isle of Shoals, was the first to have a lighthouse which was built in 1821. Originally, it flashed red, white, and blue, but the blue was stopped due to poor visibility.

In 1838, Thomas Laighton become the lighthouse's innkeeper. His daughter, Celia Thaxter, gained widespread fame as a poet and author.

After a storm in 1839, the brig, Pocahontas, was wrecked on a sandbar inspiring Thaxter's poem, "The Wreak of the Pocohontas."

In 1986, the lighthouse was automated. More recently, a restoration project was started on the lighthouse to preserve it's condition which was deteriorating. The innkeeper's house was reroofed and painted. Rotting wood work was replaced. Bricks were also replaced. Now, in 2009, the lighthouse uses LED lights. It's come a long was from the first Fresnel lens to LED, but White Island Lighthouse still inspires as a rich gem on NH's Romantic seacoast.

Here's a poem in honor of the romance of the lighthouse, which I recently wrote:

The Romance of White Island Light

Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
A humble fisherman came bold,
wanting a reprieve from the cold.
She took him in from the sea's sight.

A fire blazed in a warm room.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
A summer's gale whipped up fright.
The bricks stood the time under the moon.

Crack! Hiss! Pop! Cold flesh to shiver.
Arms entwined, seeking warmth, feeling right.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.
Passion flamed in blissful rivers.

He had to leave by the light of dawn.
Sweet promises he gave to return.
She closed the door, heart beating tight.
Bright white beams pierced the dark night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grammar Guru

OK, since someone asked for this, you've got it! This is about the difference between "your" and "you're."

your - possessive - belonging to YOU!
you're - contraction - short form of "you are"

You're going to the store, where you expect to spend all of your money.
(You are going to the store, where you expect to spend all of the money belonging to you.)

Another easy way to remember this is that whenever you see the apostrophe in a contraction, it represents a word which has been partially omitted. You're=you are, don't=do not, wasn't=was not, isn't=is not, they've=they have. Knowing this can help you determine whether or not a contraction is appropriate. Just read the sentence aloud, using the long form of the contraction.

Example: You are going to the store, where you expect to spend all of you are money.
(#1) (#2)

You can HEAR which one is correct. #1 should be You're. #2 should be your.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Patricia's Vampire Notes: Love Fang - Vampire book review

For all you paranormal (and in particular, vampire) writers out there, if you're not already subscribed to Patricia's Vampire Notes, you should be. In addition to reviews, she posts great information for authors. Because of her site, I became familiar with the author interviews on Penguin Paranormal. Anyhow, here's the link to her review of Love Fang, the first story in my series.

Patricia's Vampire Notes: Love Fang - Vampire book review

Grammar Guru

Here's a sure-fire way to remember the ins-and-outs of those pesky little dialogue tags, beginning with an example:

"That was easy," she said.

Assuming you need the "she said," that is the dialogue tag. "She said," "he said," "he explained," "she exclaimed," are all dialogue tags. Most editors will tell you NOT to overuse them. If you must do so, however, it is crucial that you use them properly and, as a working editor, I see such universal misuse of these tags that it makes me wonder if they are still taught in English Composition. Let me illustrate:

"That was easy." She said.

NO-NO-NO! (Smile) This is incorrect because "She said" is the dialogue TAG. Remember, "tag" denotes that it is still attached. "She said" is a portion of the preceding dialogue and is still attached. It is not the beginning of a new sentence. It is not stand-alone. Therefore, end your dialogue with a comma (not a period) and begin "she" with a small "s," not a capital:

"That was easy," she said.
Try to remember when you write these: THEY ARE TAGS. THEY ARE STILL ATTACHED.

See if this method saves you a little grief!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Author Intro - Stephanie Burkhart

I just want to say I think the Pen and Muse is really cool! Miriam Newman recently did a guest author spot on my blog and said, “Hey come check out The Pen and Muse.” I knew I couldn’t pass it up. My muse loves touching bases with other muses. It keeps her fresh. Hehe. Let me just thank Miriam and Denisse for having me today.

My muse? Oh yeah. She came to visit me when I was six. She was a small thing with curly hair and lots of happy bubbles. I liked her immediately. She giggled when I told a joke and blew her happy bubbles when I was feeling blue. She got me hooked on a show called “The Electric Company,” and smiled her approval when I illustrated Spiderman comic books with box figures. I figured she liked me because she stuck around. Like shoe laces on a shoe, she hung around through the 70’s, 80’, 90’s and … well, you get the picture. She’s a little worn, but she dusts off well.

I remember going to the library as a young child. She’d whisper, “Try this book,” or “You’ll like one.” I got into reading the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Judy Blume books. My muse always had good taste. Then she pointed me in the direction of comic books.

I loved comic books. I loved the team books with the X-Men, the Teen Titans, and the Legion of Superheroes. I wanted to start writing my own team comics. She said, “Steph, don’t rush it. In order to be a good writer, you’ve got to be well read. Read some more before you put pen to paper.”

Who was I to argue? I read some more. I discovered Victoria Holt and VC Andrews, and cultivated a love of Gothic Romance as a teenager in the mid 1980’s. I found “Romeo and Juliet.” Who didn’t want to be Juliet so they could find their Romeo? My muse told me Juliet didn’t die in real life so I had nothing to be worried about.

In 1986, I decided I wanted a great adventure so I joined the Army and went to Germany. My muse didn’t have anything better to do, so she came with me. Then we went to Berlin.

It was July 1988, and I won a trip to Berlin on the Berlin Orientation Tour when I was selected Solider of the Quarter for my battalion. My trip to Berlin was rather uneventful, but the muse started whispering in my ear. “This is it, Steph. Your first novel.”

It took about ten years, but “Destination: Berlin,” slowly came together. My heroine, Corporal Sharon Cates, has an action packed adventure when her train derails in the middle of Communist East Germany. With the help of a Soviet soldier, she must travel on foot to Berlin with the Stasi hot on her trail.

After getting out of the army in 1997, I took several years mastering the mechanics of writing. I came to understand point of view narration, dialogue, description, and I challenged myself with new projects. My muse has a bad habit of whispering story ideas in my ear before the previous story is finished, so I always have something up my sleeve.

In 2002 and 2003, I got in touch with my romantic roots and wrote two contemporary romances, “All that Remains,” “Are Your Dirty Little Secrets.” Secrets is the sequel to Remains. Berlin received a rare review from the Midwest Book Review, while Secrets was picked as an editor’s choice with IUniverse.

I self-published these books with IUniverse. My muse said give self-publishing a try. I’ve had good experiences with IUniverse. My novels with IUniverse and Lulu are under my pen name, "SG Cardin." SG are my initals and Cardin is my madien name.

Since secrets, I wrote a time traveling romance called “The Fickle Winds of History,” which I published through Lulu. I also published a darker story called “The Wolf’s Torment,” with IUniverse. It’s a blend of fantasy, romance, and paranormal elements. Lee Gooden from ForeWord Clarion reviews compares the story to Anne Rice’s “The Mayfair Witches,” and alludes to its dark Arthurian undertones. Both “History, and “Torment,” have been well received.

During the last couple of years, I thought I’d enter a couple of writing contests to help “fine tune” my technique and develop writing credits. Several of my short stories have honorable mentions from Writer’s Digest Contests. My biggest success so far in competition writing has been my story, “Spontaneous Decision,” which won 8th place in the Mainstream/Literary category in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition. Mainstream/Literary is not a strong genre for me, so being recognized for it was exciting.

Recently, my muse has guided me toward my romantic roots. I’ve embraced my love of the paranormal and romance to craft a story called, “The Hungarian.” A paranormal romance, “The Hungarian” will be published by Desert Breeze Publishing in May 2010. The story takes place in 1901 in England and Hungary and involves werewolves. I strive to explore more of the psychological aspects of the werewolf transformation and the effects on the human psyche.

I’m very excited to be with Desert Breeze Publishing for my latest project. What I like the most is the support from the staff and other Desert Breeze authors. I feel a real sense of teamship with everyone at Desert Breeze. My muse likes it, too.

Besides writing, I help to teach the Little Church at my church and recently I wrote an Easter play called “The Giving Meadow.” To my surprise, Viv at 4RV Publishing offered to publish it as a short story. I’d never explored children’s stories before, so this was a welcomed surprise. My muse was tickled pink, too. The story is about a caterpillar who travels through a meadow and makes new friends through sharing.

For me, writing and developing into a writer has taken time and patience. Entering the Writer’s Digests contests have been very rewarding for me. My words of wisdom are to challenge yourself, write what you enjoy (pay attention to those bubbles) and enjoy what you write. PS…my muse is named Juliet.


Here's a link to Destination: Berlin on Amazon:


Destination Berlin is a tautly written saga of mistrust, determination, and survival. 5 Stars, Midwest Book Review

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Pen Review & Interview: Blood Moon Rising

Welcome to the edition of The Pen Review & Interview with Angela Lam! Keep reading and be sure to comment as Angela is going to giveaway to one lucky winner a copy of her work, Blood Moon Rising!


Blood Moon Rising by Angela Lam

Release date: June 7, 2009

Available as eBook: ISBN 978-1-926704-02-09

Available as trade paperback: ISBN 978-1-926704-10-4

Publisher: Eternal Press (


What I liked: I really enjoyed reading this work by Angela. I really loved the main character, Valkyrie and how she would risk everything in order to find her son a cure. I love the way she interacts with her son, it's a very touching relationship and it's very present in the book. I also love how Anthony, her son, also feels the need to know about the human side and how it conflicts to what he has learned from his mother. Don't let this book fool you though, things come to light as then Valkyrie needs to find the father of her son to save his life. This is a must read for those who love action, romance, and a good tale.

A vampire must save her dhampir son from dying by finding the blood of his human father before the next full moon.


“We went to stores,” Anthony said. “I’ve never seen so many people and so many new things.” Anthony bit his lower lip trying to think of the words to explain what he experienced to his mother. “There were toys and games, books and music, and lots and lots of clothes. Rosita let me try everything on first to see if it fit. See.” Anthony’s reflection spun in the mirror, a blur of cotton and denim. “Tomorrow I’m going with Rosita to get my hair cut. She says she’s tired of having me look like a stray dog.”

Valkyrie searched for the soiled t-shirt and jeans Anthony had worn for days. She found them clean and neatly folded in a dresser drawer beside her cloak which had also been washed. “What’s this?” She fingered the softly laundered clothes.

“Rosita did our laundry.”

“What did she say about the blood stains?”

Anthony shrugged. “She didn’t mention it.”

Valkyrie cupped her hand under Anthony’s chin. Above the stubby nose and dark blue eyes, brown curls fell over his forehead and around his ears and brushed against the nape of his neck. “I don’t want you to get your hair cut. You look perfectly fine the way you are.” Valkyrie felt tightness in her chest, a pang of envy and bitterness. She thought about how selfish she had been the last few days, searching for food and clothing for herself, completely ignoring her son. A burning shame overcame her. She turned her head away from Anthony in his bright new sweatshirt and jeans and grabbed the leather bag she had stolen from Daisy.

Anthony hopped on the bed. “We need room service. Clean sheets. New soap. Rosita says it’s not sanitary the way we live.”

“How many times has Rosita been in our room?”

“Twice. She helped me carry up my new clothes. I had to let her in.”

The muscles in Valkyrie’s back tightened. “What else did Rosita say?”

“That we shouldn’t keep the curtains closed during the day. It’s too dark.”

“I like it dark. And you do, too.”

“It’s not healthy, she said.”

“Rosita doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And she knows nothing about us.” Valkyrie opened the leather bag. It was empty. She flung open the closet door. Everything had been pressed and hung up on tiny metal hangers. Valkyrie fingered a soft chemise sweater. Rosita. Tears blurred her eyes. What if she suspects something happened? What if she knows about the feeding? “I don’t want you talking to that woman anymore. She’s dangerous.”

“She’s my friend.”

Valkyrie turned around and shook Anthony’s shoulders. “You shouldn’t have let her buy you anything. I have plenty of money to get whatever you need. Just tell me what it is you want.”


“Where can we go for toys?”

“The stores. But there’s only one problem.”

“What’s that?”

“They’re only open during the day.”

Valkyrie screamed as she released her son. She picked up the empty leather bag and flung it across the room. It knocked against the wall and crumpled to the floor. Valkyrie sunk to her knees, sobbing. Her hands trembled. “I try so hard,” she said. “I don’t understand how I can get everything wrong when it comes to you.”

Anthony slowly approached his mother. He gently touched her quivering shoulders. “Why are you crying?”

“Because I keep failing you, don’t you understand? We’ve been here for a quarter of a moon and we haven’t even begun looking for the man who fathered you. From now on, you’re coming everywhere with me, understand?”

“But I like Rosita. She’s teaching me all sorts of things. Like how to read and write and do math. I want to be like her. I want to be human.”

The Interview....

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

I am originally from Silicon Valley. I moved to Northern California almost 20 years ago.

Tell us a bit about your book, Blood Moon Rising? What inspired it?

Blood Moon Rising is a mother-son story with a romantic twist. Valkyrie is a vampire mother who must save her dhampir son by finding his human father's blood before the next full moon. She risks her life by journeying into the city to find a man she has not seen in over 15 years. The struggle between Valkyrie's motherly love and her son's growing interest in learning how to be human is compounded by Valkyrie's romantic interest in a man she suspects might be her son's father.

I wrote the novel during maternity leave when the maternal themes were very present in my life.

What's your formula for creating characters? I find myself falling in love with the heroes and heroines. Do you model them after people around you or do they have a bit of you in them?

I do not have a set formula for creating characters. If I am telling a story about a series of events, I ask what type of person would engage in those actions? If I am writing about a theme, such as forgiveness, I ask who needs to be forgiven and for what? The answers to those questions lead to character creation. I do not use real people or myself as models, but I do use my feelings to convey the emotional truth about my characters.

Do you have any other works in progress that you want to share?

I am almost finished with a story about three close childhood friends caught between loyalties, ambitions, and the Native American way of life with the opening of a casino.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?

Keep writing. Believe in your work when no one else believes in you. There is a ton of rejection both before and after your work is published. If you are grounded in the reason why you write, you will not be derailed.
If you don't have the heart for it, please do something else. Life is too short to be a starving artist.

What are your favorite books at the moment?

I just finished reading Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel. It is a beautifully written story about intimacy and freedom and finding meaning in the past so you can live fully in the present. For more on my favorite books, please visit my bookshelf at I usually read 2-4 books a month.

What is your favorite word?


Least favorite?


Thank you again for this interview.