It's about adventure! Life, Scouting, Family, writing what else is there?
UPDATED INTRO 4 JULY 2019:
Just a little about me. I've been married for 27 years and currently live in Southern California, but I grew up in New Hampshire.
I've got 2 kids, a 17 yrs old and a 12 yr old. Both are boys. Nuff said.
I work as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. I enjoy my job a lot.
I love to write, but since I've been so involved with the Boy Scouts program since 2015 (now Scouts BSA since girls were invited to come on board) I haven't written much. I hope to get back to more writing soon, as I'm scaling back my BSA commitment.
I like to get out in nature, take walks around Castaic Lake, drink coffee and watch football.
Here's a little bi about my zodiac.
GEMINI: Gemini, the sign of the Twins, is dual-natured, elusive, complex and contradictory. On the one hand it produces the virtue of versatility, and on the other the vices of two-facedness and flightiness. The sign is linked with Mercury, the planet of childhood and youth, and its subjects tend to have the graces and faults of the young. When they are good, they are very attractive; when they are bad they are more the worse for being the charmers they are. Like children they are lively, and happy, if circumstances are right for them, or egocentric, imaginative and restless.
Their good qualities are attractive and come easily to them. They are affectionate, courteous, kind, generous, and thoughtful towards the poor and suffering - provided none of the activities resulting from expressing these traits interferes too greatly with their own lives and comforts.
Geminians can be successful in many walks of life though their general characteristics tend to make them unreliable. They are often skilled manipulators of language, in speech and writing, and may be: debaters, diplomats (though in politics they are more interested in theory than practice), orators, preachers (brilliant rather than profound), teachers, authors, poets, journalists, or lawyers.
This is me. I am a Gemini. Pure, Raw, passionate.
The NEW focus of this blog is to share my adventures, scouting adventures, book reviews, thoughts, opinions, and writing adventures from actual writing, writing/editing tips, marketing, research. I'll get there.
Find me at:
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Previous GRATITIOUS Warning, that I decided to keep in case I post about something that might offend.
I intend to be open, honest, and forthright. No topic is off limits from religion to you name it, I'm going there. If you think you might be offended...back up now - this blog isn't for you. For those who "dare" check out the "Gemini Rising..."
|Book Review for: “Sex with Kings”
Written by: Eleanor Herman
Harper Collins Publishers
Herman takes her readers on a delightful romp through history and gives us a taste of what its like to have sex with kings. Masterfully written and easy to read, history comes alive in ways the reader doesn’t expect.
Herman takes a look at some of history’s most famous kings: France’s Charles VII, Francois I, Henri II, Louis XIV and Louis XV. She also gives us a peek into English kings as well, including Edward III, Henry VIII, Charles II, and even Prince Charles.
Sex with kings was an art and no one was more skilled than the royal mistresses. Herman points out that the kings usually gave their hearts to their mistresses – their wives were very rarely treated with the same affection. Louis XIV fell in love with his last mistress, Madame de Maintenon while she was serving as a governess to the children he had with his second mistress, Madame de Montespan. While he did have affection for his wife, it wasn’t the grand passion he reserved for his mistresses.
There was a lot to consider if one was going to have sex with a king. The first consideration was the fine art of giving him pleasure. The mistress had to appeal to his sensual side. Very rarely were their wives chosen for their sensuality. Henri II of France clearly preferred Diane de Poitiers over his wife, Catherine de Medici. After nine years of marriage, Henri had yet to have a child by his wife because he spent so much time with Diane. An agreement was worked out were Diane would work Henri up and then she’d send him to Catherine to finish the job.
Mistresses had appearances to keep. Generally, they didn’t scold or throw fits. They were always in a good mood – even if they weren’t. They never frowned. They had to enjoy the king’s hobbies, even if they didn’t. After all, the benefits outweighed the discomfort.
Mistresses were usually paid well. The king provided everything she needed or wanted – and he usually took care of the bastard children. Herman points out the children the king usually had with his mistresses were healthy and thrived. The children with his wife were usually sicker. This was due to the fact the royal bloodlines were intermingled. Marie-Theresa, Louis XIV’s wife, was a sickly woman and short in stature due to her family’s in-breeding. Out of their six sons, only one grew to adulthood, and he resembled his mother in her dull, unattractive looks.
Mistresses were provided with jewels, apartments, real estate, and titles. Most of them knew better than to engage in political intrigue with the king, but some tried. Diane de Poitiers almost ran the government for Henri II, but his grandson, Louis XIV, didn’t care for his mistresses to be active in his political life.
The book ends with Herman taking a look at modern day mistresses, Wallis Simpson and Camilla Parker-Bowles. While times change, the allure of having a mistress does not.
Herman’s writing is brisk and sharp. Her anecdotes about the various kings throughout history are interesting. The book includes several color portraits of various royal mistresses and a reader’s guide to help sate the reader who demands more. “Sex with Kings,” is a book that is hard to put down.
|Every book needs a blurb. But what is a blurb? It's a 150-200 word tease of your book. Blurbs can also be quotes from other authors or review agencies used to tease your book.
What do you use a blurb for?
Mostly, they're used for the back cover tease of your book, but it could be used in other places as well. You can use them on your web site and promotional material.
Some places I think blurbs would be effective:
Amazon.com Review of the item
B&N Review of the item
Where can you get blurbs?
Well, you can solict from review agencies like Reader Views, ForeWord Magazine, Kirkus, and of course, other authors in the genre you're writing about.
An example of a quote blurb - "A thrilling mystery," SG Cardin, author of "The Wolf's Torment."
When you tackle the 150-200 word blurb think of these elements:
Set the mood, scene, or conflict.
Try to convey what makes your book unique.
Use question marks to intrigue the reader
More action verbs, less adverbs
REMEMBER - Blurbs are not summaries - tease, tease, & tease.
The first time you put the blurb together may not be your best effort. Rewrite, edit, & rewrite. Very few get the blurb right the first time they draft it.
So here's a "blurb" proposed for my novel, "The Wolf's Torment." I'd love to hear your thoughts. Does this tease you? Intrigue you? Or make you snooze.... Be honest.
Moldavia – dark, mysterious, a country steeped in mythical legends of vampires, werewolves, and witches. For Crown Prince Mihai, he is indoctrinated to the brutal truth when he witnesses the brutal slaying of his mother by a witch.
Wanting to control his own destiny, Mihai goes to England for a modern education intent on modernizing the country, but when his father recalls him to Moldavia for his royal duties, his life takes a stunning turn he’s been trying to avoid when his best friend, Viktor, is bitten by a werewolf.
Driven by demons Viktor cannot control, he struggles to maintain his humanity, yet his actions threaten to dismantle Moldavia and Mihai’s life.
|My note: I had the opportunity to read this before I read "Push Not The River" and I totally enjoyed the story. It put me in touch with my "roots."
Against a Crimson Sky
By: James Conroyd Martin
St. Martin’s Press
“Against a Crimson Sky” takes a gripping historical look at the final partition of Poland (1795), it’s people, and tells the personal story of the Stelnickis. Martin uses a grand, sweeping style reminiscent of epic storytelling to paint a vivid picture of the era. “Against a Crimson Sky” is a book that can easily be visualized on the movie screen.
The story beings in 1794 shortly after the Russians invade Poland before the country’s final partition. Zofia Gonska is pulled from a river escaping death. Switching scenes, Countess Anna Berezowska-Grawlinska (minor Polish nobility) makes her way back home to Sochaczew after the Russian invasion of Praga and reunites with her lover, Count Jan Stelnicki. As Poland is finally taken over by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, Anna and Jan get married and start their family.
Zofia, Anna’s cousin, had previously tried to keep Anna and Jan apart. Now, she finds herself drawn to the peasant boy who saved her, Jerzy. Zofia though is like a bird that can’t stay still and the peasant life isn’t for her. She leaves Jerzy and returns to Praga, a town just outside of Warsaw, and gives birth to her daughter, Izabel.
Anna and Zofia make peace, yet Jan finds married life unable to satisfy his restless nature. When Napolean hints that he would return Poland to the Poles, Jan and his friend, Pawel, join the Emperor’s legion, leaving Anna to raise their three children, Jan Michel, Tadeusz, and Barbara. Anna, uncomfortable with the local magistrate, Dolinski, leaves Sochaczew and moves in with Zofia at Praga.
As Napoleon marches across Europe, Anna and Zofia, as members of Poland’s nobility, help to entertain various European dignitaries, including Russia’s Czar, Alexander, and even Napolean himself. Zofia is always in the thick of Polish intrigue while Anna prefers to keep her eyes on her boys who have gone to military school.
After years apart, Jan is reunited with Anna in Sochaczew as their boys join Napolean’s march into Russia. This time it’s Anna who leaves Jan to work as a nurse in Praga. As Napolean’s march into Russia holds the promise of a reunited Poland, will Jan and Anna’s marriage withstand another separation? The end of the novel is surprising and satisfying.
The book’s historical backdrop is intriguing and the supporting cast is not only dynamic, but strong in it’s own right. Zofia, Pawel, Charlotte, and Dolinski have their own interesting stories to share. Anna is a vibrant lead character in her own right and is a steady, grounding force during the turbulent times of the book. Anna’s nobility, whatever the situation, always shines through.
The pace is quick and the writing is sharp. The book is a sequel to “Push Not the River,” but stands on it’s own. For an exciting look at Poland’s struggles and the human condition in the face of war, “Against a Crimson Sky,” is a book that will keep the reader turning the page.
|Thursday is my California day and unfortunately, I haven't been able to blog about Calfornia the past couple of weeks. This week I'm making the time and I'm going to tie it into a writing "theme" - setting.
Setting is so important in a story. It sets mood, tone, and the background that your characters are going to be playing in. For me, researching a setting before writing is so important. It helps bring an authencity to the story. How does this fit into California? California can inspire the perfect setting. For me, I find California Wine Country very inspirational for my writing.
California has great gifts - a long seacost, the Heart Castle near San Simeon, Wine Country, and San Fransisco. I live near Los Angeles, and it's pretty crowded, but there are plenty of places in Southern California that can inspire one - Catalina Island for one.
All the above locations I mentioned inspire my "romantic" muse. I have the rough idea to write a romance that takes place in the late 1930's near in the heart of Napa Valley. Sigh... If only I could find the time to write it.
The first time I saw Sonoma and Napa Counties I fell instantly in love. It reminded me of home with all it's greenery. And there's something about wine and grapes I find romantic.
Did I tell you I loved "Bottle Shock?"
So when getting ready to write your story, give your setting extra thought. Research. Visit it if you can. You'll find it'll pay off.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on setting and what you think is a romantic settings.
Go out and inspire the muse!
|From Publisher's Weekly:
Sony to go EPub only
Sony plan to announce today that it will use only the ePub e-book format in its e-book store by the end of the year and will cease using its proprietary DRM, according to the New York Times.
Other than that, not much else is going on. Dan Brown's latest book is due in September and I believe it's called THE LOST SYMBOL.
One thing I've noticed is that ebooks are gaining in popularity as of late. They still aren't as in demand as print books but with the popularity of the Kindle, ebooks are picking up as of late.
Kindle is already available, and I think Sony's ebook reader is too. B&N's ebook reader will be avail next year.
The advantages? Saves paper. books are cheaper. They can carry multiple books on a reader. Saves space. Never goes "out of print."
The disadvantatges? Eye strain. The ebook reader itself is expensive. The Kindle is $299. Sony is a little cheaper, I think. The ebook reader can break. Hard to read in sunlight.
Several of my books are avail on ebook including ACROSS THE FICKLE WINDS OF HISTORY from Lulu.
Anyone with an ebook want to weigh in? Ebooks are inovative - some would argue they're the future. And with today's technology they certainly look forward to the future.
Steph's Wednesday Writing Tip:
When writing dialogue, identify the speaker only if you have to so as to avoid confusion. Use simple tags. "said" and "replied" are generally the most accepted. Stay away from tags such as snarled, hissed, and gushed.
Have a great writing week!
|Thinking of writing some fantasy? Here's an overview. Enjoy.
When one thinks of fantasy, JRR Tolkein comes to mind. Peter Jackson's wonderful movie trilogy of Tolkein's work highlights all the elements which embody the fantasy genre.
Fantasy doesn't deal with the "theoretically possible," (that's Science Fiction) but the impossible. Fantasy creates new worlds and embodies them with a degree of familiarity to make them appealing. In fact, it's possiblily the most popular children's genre, appealing to children and teenagers with their coming-of-age stories.
Fantasy, however, is not an easy genre to write for. While there are no set rules, there are "standard elements" which are expected to be in a fantasy story.
As you flesh out your stories keep the following elements in mind - you'll need to weave them into your story: create a fantasy world, establish myths, legends, and fairytales, establish rules for your magic, define your archetypes, draw maps, flesh out the characters' journeys, and establish a suspension of disbelief that is believable.
As you prepare to write your fantasy story, you've got to create your world. "The Lord of the Rings," used a pre-industrial setting, akin to Earth's middle ages, and this is usually used in most writings, however this setting isn't set in stone. Growing more common are futuristic worlds. Drawing maps goes hand-in-hand with this element. It allows you, the writer, to visualize your world, its countries, the land, and the people who populate your world.
Next, you have to establish your world's myths and legends - an imaginary past, if you will. Most myths and legends have their roots in what's considered eternal truths. (good vs evil, for example)
Magic is crucial to your fantasy world. Without it, logical explanations would have to be found for your fantastical events.
The fantasy genre is grounded with archetypical elements - the wise old wizard, the young hero, the divine child, a quest, dragons, unicorns, a walled castle, a wasteland, and a dying king are some examples. They're expected to appear in some form or another in the genre.
Fantasy writing usually deals with journeys or quests, and nothing connects better with young readers as a "coming-of-age" story. As we follow our hero on his/her journey, we get familiar with our fantasy world that we've created.
The fantasy genre does require the reader to suspend their belief about the natural world, but that doesn't mean, you, the author, can let anything slip by. Every world has laws and rules that can't be broken. By keeping your characters grounded within the laws of your world, you make them believable.
By staying true to these elements, you should establish the back bone of a good fantasy story.
|I read this book about 2 years ago and I found it a fascinating, poignant read. To my surprise, I found a Movie Trailer on You Tube for it. I understand the movie was released in the US in July 2009 in limited distrubtion. I would LOVE to see it, but it's not playing in my area. Here's my review and a link to the You Tube Preview. Enjoy!
Book Review for: “A Woman in Berlin”
Written by: Anonymous
“A Woman in Berlin” tells the amazing story of the fall of Berlin in 1945 and the subsequent Russian invasion before the allies arrived. The author paints a riveting picture of the war’s aftermath and chronicles in brutal detail what she had to do to stay alive.
The novel is told in a journal format and starts on Friday, April 20, 1945. The story is by an anonymous woman who describes herself only as a thin, pale blond who wears the same overcoat. Her first entry presents a graphic scene. Berlin is under siege by the Russians. The author knows the Russians are about to liberate the city and she’s dreading it. They don’t have a good reputation as liberators. She lives in an apartment building with several other residents. The rations are poor, there’s no radio, and there’s no electricity. Gas stoves, central heating, and hot plates are all “gifts of the modern age,” but ineffectual if there’s no power.
The bombs intensify around Berlin. The fighting heats up and then nothing. An eerie lull settles over he city. The author writes with unflinching honesty noting how the German society was built around the strength of their men, but now shattered, their men are miserable and powerless, leaving the German women at the mercy of their conquerors.
On April 27, the author notes that the Russians have entered Berlin. They’ve quickly earned the nickname of “Ivan.” She realizes that in order to be safe, she had better find a Russian officer to watch over her. She knows that in order to earn his favor she’ll have to be intimate with him, but it’s a risk she’s willing to take.
The author is candid. Having worked as a reporter previously, she can speak Russian. The initial Russians she meets are surprised by her. She seeks out a Russian lieutenant, Anatol, and becomes involved with him. He’s good to her and she gets used to him. Their relationship is short-lived. He’s soon transferred and a man known at the Major comes into the author’s life as her new lover and protector. The Major is tender and respectful of her, something that is stunning to her.
Slowly, but surely, Berlin starts to come alive. Basic services are beginning to be restored. By the end of the novel, which ends on June 16, with her own announcement that she intends to stop writing, the author meets with her fiancé, Gerd, who after discovering how she’s slept with several Russian men after the city’s fall, leaves her a final time. The novel concludes with the announcement of American and British forces taking over the southern part of Berlin, giving the author a sense of hope after the Russian misery she’s endured.
One of the main themes throughout the novel is the rape of Berlin after the city falls – not only of it’s possessions, but of it’s women. The author chooses to give her body to Russian officers, (the officers have a reputation of keeping a woman relatively safe, whereas an enlisted man was known to rape a woman) but she still feels no better than a whore. After a pregnancy scare, she wonders how many other women have done what she has only to end up pregnant by a Russian soldier.
The author humanizes a slice of history that is slowly fading from our view. The book is raw and honest, discussing uncomfortable truths that today are still uncomfortable. Rich in history, “A Woman in Berlin,” is a stirring and poignant read.
|Barnes and Nobles has been in the news lately as they try to expand their markets in this tight economy. My source for the following information is Publisher's Weekly. You can access their website at: http://www.publishersweekly.com/
Barnes and Nobles just acquired Barnes and Noble College Booksellers. I'm not quite sure how this will effect the College Booksellers per se, I'll be looking to see what happens here.
Barnes and Nobles is also planning to open an online store, much like Amazon that will focus on selling - ebooks. Yes, Barnes and Nobles is getting back into Ebooks. B&N were into ebooks from 2000-2003, but then got out in 2003 when they determined the ebook market was sluggish. Now, the market has been revitialized with the Amazon Kindle. To that end, they are developing what they call the PLASTIC LOGIC READER - their verison of Amazon's Kindle. It should be available sometime next year. I'll keep my eyes out for that as well.
If you've got anything you'd like to share, leave a note.
On an unrelated note, it's that time of the month to PLUG my official online newsletter. I put out a monthly newsletter that focuses on the writing world. I discuss genre writing, editing points, news from the publishing world, like the Barnes and Noble tidbit I just discussed, look at a Small Press - this month Leucrota Press is featured as well as look at Literary Agent blogs for those who are interested in traditional publishing. I also have book reviews posted for books I read and my books.
You can sign up for my newsletter at: http://sgcardin.tripod.com
Go to the end of the home page and fill in the form. The newsletter is free.
Smiles & Have a great week!
|The Set up: Viktor tells Mihai he's been made into a werewolf.
“Do you believe in myths? Vampires? Werewolves? I never did, though I heard many tales about them growing up,” Viktor said.
Mihai felt a cold shiver run own his spine, recalling the old witch’s pursuit of his mother. Had something similar happened to Viktor? No wonder his friend was distressed. Mihai grew distant, sensing Viktor had something to tell him that involved those repugnant legends.
“I’ve heard tales. The one that intrigued me the most was where a deadly plague ravished a village in Carpathia in the dark ages. Everyone died except the son of the count who oversaw the village. The son was changed somehow from the plague, and when he grew up, one offshoot of his children became vampires, the other werewolves. There’s more to the myth, but I’m being brief. Why do you ask?”
“I have been bitten by a werewolf, Mihai.”
Mihai got to his feet, stunned. Not his best friend! How could such foulness touch him? His eyes raked over Viktor, drinking in his friend’s features. Viktor was a man, but a werewolf was sly and cunning, a beast that, if left untamed, would ravish those he cared for.
Mihai lunged at Viktor, choking him. “Damn you. How could you let this happen?”
Viktor’s hands clamped around Mihai’s wrists, and with relative ease, he pushed Mihai backwards, causing him to crash into one of the posts of the gazebo.
“That wasn’t the reaction I expected from a friend.”
“How can you be a friend to me now? You don’t understand—!”
“Then explain it to me, Mihai. I have built a life here in Moldavia and I don’t want it taken from me.” Viktor balled his hands into fists.
Mihai drew in a deep breath. “I didn’t tell you the entire truth about my mother’s death. Yes, there was a carriage accident, but she was being pursued by a witch. It was a witch that slew her, and I witnessed it.”
“Why was a witch after the Queen of Moldavia?” Viktor asked.
“My mother had been promised into servitude to the witch as a little girl,” Mihai said.
Even now, at this moment, when Viktor was being totally truthful with him, Mihai couldn’t confess to his own mother being a witch. Not even to his closest friend. How could he? Viktor was a wolf, and Mihai had heard several tales of the werewolf’s cunning nature.
“I see. The witch took no pity on your mother, and the bastard who did this took no pity on me either. I have transformed. Sonia witnessed this. She’s so upset she won’t let me touch her, and I fear I might have tried to harm her in my unnatural state.” A tear escaped from Viktor’s eye.
Mihai stood there, rocked by his friend’s confession and his own painful memories of the night his mother died. How could he let such a beast into his home? How could he not? Viktor loved Sonia, yet even now his confession spoke of the werewolf’s inability to control his actions.
“How dangerous are you?” Mihai asked.
“I don’t know. But there’s more - Sonia is pregnant with my child.”
Mihai noticed how Viktor skirted his question, only to drop another bombshell on him. “Did you try to kill her in a bestial rage?”
“No, but she’s scared. She wants to leave me, and I don’t want her to. I want to be married to her and I want us to raise our child.”
Mihai shook so badly that he had to grab onto a support pole in the gazebo. “Is the child a werewolf, too?”
“No, thank heavens. Sonia and I have reached a compromise, with your help.”
Viktor was a good man. To see him in such agony broke Mihai’s heart. He knew wolves could be very dangerous. He had to make a decision. Could he forsake Viktor? Banish his friend from his life? What would a man do? Protect his family? He looked into Viktor’s pained eyes and knew he couldn’t send Viktor away.
“I’ll do whatever I can for you.”
“Go to Sonia. Tell her you and Theresa have agreed to be the child’s godparents. You’ll look after the child and keep it safe from me while it lives here with us.”
“Once the child is born, if she wants to leave, she can. It’s her choice.”
“I’ll do this for you, but if you so much as touch that girl, be it as man or beast, I’ll kill you myself, and know this - I will not have you going after the citizens of Moldavia.”
“Mihai, my maker claims I am an ancestor of his and wants me to go to him for the next full moon. I don’t want to do that,” Viktor said, his voice shaking. “Will you make a place to keep me safe?”
“Where would I keep you?” Mihai asked.
“In a dungeon. You must build it as quickly as possible. You have little less than three weeks before the moon is full again.”
“Mihai, please, I hate him. He can do so many incredible things. You must lock me in a dungeon and keep me safe. How can I retain my humanity if you don’t? I won’t go to him, I won’t.”
“Fine, I’ll watch over you myself. You’re like a brother to me. If not for that, I would disown you. Do you understand?”
“Now do you understand why I want to modernize my country? I want to have all the latest inventions like railroads and lithographs so people will think Romania is modern, too.”
“You want all these new things to chase out the legends of the past?”
“Don’t pretend that you know my heart, Viktor. I won’t forsake you, but my priorities are to Moldavia, and above that, Romania,” Mihai said.
“What happened to the boy I met in London?”
“I’m a man now, with responsibilities.”
“A man? A man has a heart. It’s what makes him human.”
“Then act like a man and go to the castle to sleep in your own room,” Mihai said.
“Tomorrow morning we’ll make plans to deal with your ailment.”
Viktor nodded his head, turned around and took long strides back to the castle.
|I've been making the rounds around the Internet visiting various agent blogs. I've also submitted some queries in my day.
Here's my thoughts: If you're serious about your writing, then you'll GET serious about sending out a query that is a quality query.
Tip #1 - Leave your EGO at the door. Be pleasent when writing a query. Don't haress agents and don't send out mass email queries that sound generic. When you write a query, write with that agent in mind.
Taken from BookEnds, LLC:
Every single agent on earth is included in the “to” section of the email. I know you’re querying widely, heck, I tell you to query widely, but at least make us all think you’re querying us individually or that you care who might become your agent. I don’t bother to even respond to these emails, they just get deleted.
I really like BookEnds. They've got a great blog, update it often, and the agents there, Jessica, Jacky, and Kim are down to Earth and honest. If you you're just starting out, I suggest you hang out with their blog for a week, just to get to know the climate of querying.
Tip #2 - Which goes along with tip #1. Be humble. Good manners always gets results. Be pleasant. Throwing a fit or calling an agent names will not get results.