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


  1. It's always good to know the story behind the books. Thanks for sharing, Steph. Oh, and give our" regards to Juliet. My muse, Persephone, likes making new friends.

  2. Great story behind the story, Steph. And your muse sounds smart and fun.

    My muse is prickly and doesn't play well with others, else I'd introduce him.

  3. STEPH-I am impressed! Learning more about you was interesting, to say the least. What a wonderful life you've led, very involved and worthwhile.I congratulate you! Celia

  4. Miriam, Jules gives hugs to Persephone and thinks it's a really cool name. hehe. Keena! Great to see you. ((hugs)) to your muse, too. Juliet hopes to melt his heart one day. hehe. Celia, great to see you, Sweetie. Yes, I've gotten around. I've just scanned pics from my time in Denmark when I got married. Rita, it's such a pleasure to see you here on the blogs. I'm so glad you've enjoyed my books. I've got "Runaway Bride" on my reading list and hope to get to it soon!


  5. Hi Stephanie, fascinating post, it's always interesting to know the stories behind other author's books.

  6. Your welcome! Great to have you with us!